Sunday, January 10, 2016
The Bastard, by Tarek Abi Samra
They were born on the same night, of the same father but different mothers.
A nice opening sentence, that, with a lovely fairy tale feel. Samra keeps this up in his story, set in contemporary times, partly by leaving all the characters nameless. And then there is the plot, which has a timeless feel.
You see, the half-brothers were born in the same hospital, and there was some confusion, so no one is sure which brother is which. The father makes an arbitrary choice, setting their destinies forever in place.
The two boys grow up next door to each other. The so-called bastard envies his brother his legitimacy and wealth. The heir envies the other one his freedom, a loving mother (his own died in childbirth), and his strength and confidence.
Clearly their fates are tangled up and the story tells us the stories of their lives, with an appropriately noirish ending.