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October 5 2019
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In Seine-Saint-Denis, known as “the 93,” a suburb northwest of Paris.

Older Brother by Mahir Guven

Older Brother opens with a line that echoes Albert Camus (“Mother died today”) and, more recently, Leïla Slimani (“The baby is dead”): “Death is the only true thing.” That specter of death looms large over the entirety of the slim volume, which is set in the Parisian banlieues and shifts between the perspectives of an older brother, a soldier turned Uber driver, and a younger brother, an inner-city nurse turned humanitarian worker.

By the time we meet the two brothers, their mother has long been dead. The older brother jokes about dying from the boredom of his job, wonders about jumping off the balcony where he smokes, and fantasizes about his getaway car flipping on the highway, down to the detail of a friend reading about his untimely death in the papers the morning after.

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