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Brothers

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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  766 ratings  ·  111 reviews
At the height of China’s Cultural Revolution a powerful general fathered two sons. Tan was born to the general’s wife and into a life of comfort and luxury. His half brother, Shento, was born to the general’s mistress, who threw herself off a cliff in the mountains of Balan only moments after delivering her child. Growing up, each remained ignorant of the other’s existence ...more
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Published September 26th 2006 by Random House Audio (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,372)
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M Martin Penner
This book was jam backed with love, tragedy, hatred, revenge and forgiveness. I cried at the end. I gave this book a five but maybe it's just the right time in my life to read something like this where I can really appreciate all the aspects this book offered.
Amanda
Interesting historical/family drama seen through the lens of three generations of Chinese men - two brothers, one growing up as a revered son, the other a bastard. Their lives continue to intersect through time and relationships.
Jessica
I'm almost embarrassed to critique this book, because I felt like I was reading the first noveling effort of a very young author. It had every cliche of both historical fiction and poor storytelling, and about halfway through the book I was reading it only to see how much more ridiculous it would become before the end. All the characters are flat stereotypes, either completely good or fully evil; there's an attempt to explain the Bad Guy's fall, which isn't convincing, and there's an even more i ...more
Nick
I have been fascinated for a very long time by Asia generally and China specifically. I’ve done a lot of reading about Chinese history, especially Chinese history from the end of the empire to today. Oddly enough, I have learned more about the Chinese people and culture from reading novels by Chinese authors than I have from any work of non-fiction. This book fits into this trend perfectly. Brothers tells the story of two half-brothers, fathered by the favorite son of two of the most powerful fa ...more
Chin
This is an historical fiction book about the China’s Cultural Revolution about a general and his two sons. In Brothers by Dan Chen, Shento one of the narrators ask Budda and Sumi, the one he loves for forgiveness. Similar to Leonka’s situation in The Kitchen Boy, he hid the note, however, it was lost. Shento ask Sumi for forgiveness for harming her and cutting off her tongue because she was an anti-Communist. “Forgive me that I have sinned. Spare me a chance so that I can redeem, act by act, the ...more
Ashley
I really liked this book. Da Chen was such an amazing writer, with his discriptions of what was going on in the two brother's lives, I really felt what they were going through and was cheering them both on.

The thing that kept this book from being a five-star is the ending. You end up wanting both brothers to find happiness - but in the end neither of them do. Not that I think a happy ending could have necessarily fit in with the rest of the book, I just felt empty after finishing the book. In my
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Sherri
Shento and Tan are brothers, albeit unknowingly. Tan was born to a general in the military and grew up privileged. While Shento, who was also the son of the general, was born to the general's mistress. She threw herself off the cliff right after giving birth because she did not want to be an unwed mother. Shento lives with a couple that takes him in for a few years But in a natural disaster, he loses both of them and lands in an orphanage where he must work for his meals and his bed.

The chapters
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Johann Liebert
This one caught me by surprise. Originally assigned for an eastern literature class, this one caught my attention because of the use of poetic description, as well as its grand scope, taking place from China's Cultural Revolution to modern times, and covering an entire family's struggle. Nothing too deep or thought provoking, but certainly worth picking up.
Tawnia
The story of two brothers, growing up in different families not know the other exhists, and how fate brings them together. Both brothers are good and evil. I fell in love with Shento and hated Tao in the the beginning. Then my feelings turned mid-book only to determine that fate was cruel and that I loved both brothers by the end of the book.
Betty
Some revealing glimpses into Modern Day China and the monumental issues the country still faces. A most fascinating novel. I found it to be a page-turner.
Mark
This is one of my all-time favorite books, ever, across all genres.
Charlie
Critical Analysis: Brothers by Da Chen


Da Chen in his novel Brothers sows seeds of beauty that flourish and abound in a book filled with memorable hardships and glorious triumphs. Brothers explores the role of social influences in the development of the self, the social comparisons of Shento and Tan –– two estranged brothers who take conflicting sides in China’s Cultural Revolution. Within the Revolution is the timeframe when the shooting at Tiananmen Square takes place; which is dealt within the
...more
Dani
Oct 14, 2008 Dani rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of contemporary chinese history, action love stories, political intrigue
I've finished this book some time ago and just now have some time to write my review.

This was a very interesting book in the end. I won't give anything away, but it was more or less a combination of the War of the Roses and the Prince and the Pauper without the switching of the main characters to their other worlds, all set to the back drop of the end of Mao China and ending with the Tiananmen Square incident and its after effects. It's also a story of love lost, found and turned traitor throug
...more
Lori
Oct 21, 2008 Lori rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Lori by: Queens Public Library
This was an amazing audiobook about two brothers, Tan-born legitimately to a general and Shento, who is the general's bastard son, born in the remote village of Bala. The two brothers find themselves unknowingly propelled by fate to a competition in life, politics and love-in particular a woman named Sumi Wo. Their love for her drives them to war with each other and the nation. It is also a vivid description of the tumultuous times in China during the Communist regime.

The book was long and took
...more
NYLSpublishing
Aug 26, 2008 NYLSpublishing rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to NYLSpublishing by: NYLS Book Review
I remember, at the age of six, telling my play partner that I would hate him for the rest of my life. Though I can’t recall what his infraction was to have been, I do remember his response – that he would hate me even after death. We then proceeded to destroy one another’s toys until we found ourselves sitting amid tangled piles of rubble lamenting the fact that scarcely any decent toys remained to play with. Such are the ways of boys. Such is the nature of hate.

Chen’s, Brothers, opens with th
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Helmut
Gute Brüder kann niemand trennen

Shento und Tan sind die (Halb-)Brüder, deren Biografie diesen Roman ausmachen. Immer abwechselnd wird pro Kapitel die Lebensgeschichte der beiden sich so ähnlichen Charaktere vorangetrieben. Der eine wächst in einem Umfeld einer hochdekorierten Familie von Generälen und Bankern auf, der andere, ein "Unfall" des Vaters des erstgenannten, durchlebt als Waise die Armut und Grausamkeit des kulturrevolutionären Mao-Chinas. Der Autor Da Chen schildert in einer sehr span
...more
P.d.r. Lindsay
This elegantly written book, a gripping story, is also a stunning insight into the China of Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution. If your knowledge of Communist China was gathered through Western news, then this book is a revelation. If you thought that life was better for many people after the People's revolution then you will be as disappointed as I to read about Chairman Mao's lordly feudal lifestyle and his traditional methods of government.

'Brothers' is about the lives of Shento and Tan, hal
...more
Gabriela Melo
Sim, este é um dos melhores livros que já eu li. Ele prende atenção do começo ao fim. É de tirar o fôlego, com certeza.
O livro conta a história de Tan Long e Shento, dois irmãos que não se conhecem, mas cujos destinos se cruzam. O general Ding Long, durante a Revolução Cultural, tem um filho fora do casamento, Shento que cresce nas montanhas ignorando a existencia de seu irmão Tan, que cresce na capital Beijing (para nós, Pequim) com uma vida luxuosa. E assim vão vivendo até que a situação poli
...more
Carol B.
I like this author.
While jumping off of a cliff to kill herself, a woman gives birth to a baby. The umbilical cord gets caught on a tree branch on the way down. The story begins with the life of this child who was saved.

Yes, I definitely read this before. I would not forget an opening like this.
Mike
This novel is great in the way it conveys the cultural revolution of China, but it is hobbled by the absurdity of its many coincidences.

This story of 2 extraordinary half-brothers is engaging, and I enjoyed moving through it and the recent history of China at the time. The book is primarily told in first person narrative form alternating between the two brothers. Their lives rise and fall (for the most part) inversely to one another. That would be coincidence enough, but that they both separatel
...more
Jeri
Ugh! Avoid, avoid, avoid. I couldn't even finish it. Life's too short--though this book will make it seem infinitely longer! I do not understand all the fours and fives! This is the most hackneyed, melodramatic, shallowly written piece of drivel it's been my misfortunate to read.
Posadafan
Ok, for all the "wrongness" in this book, 4 stars is probably a little high...but it was so darned absorbing! And the storyline is nicely woven, in and out, with unpredictable twists the whole way. I couldn't put the thing down, and it's a rather heavy book.

Though this is a novel, it's set in a certain well-documented period of time in China, and within that there seems to be more than a few inaccuracies. (Yes, it's fiction, but you'd at least expect the historical details to be genuine.)

Also,
...more
Nhu Luong
Although I was overwhelmed by the book's size at first, I felt in love with it after started reading through a few pages. With detailed and touching descriptive languages, Da Chen re-drew the life of many Chinese families at the end of Cultural Revolution and its afterward.

Two step-brothers,Shento and Tan, came from two distinct backgrounds; they all felt in love with one girl, Sumi. Wanting to his revenge on his father, Shento turned himself into an power-abused political leader in China. Two b
...more
Wendy Lu
I think I've been really lucky in the historical fiction pieces I pick up -- they always seem to be good, regardless of the complaints I hear from people claiming that historical fiction just doesn't work.

I thought this one found a decent balance between getting a feel for the political atmosphere and changing culture of the time and developing realistic characters with a good storyline. Love the political drama and upheaval, but the love triangle thing with the two brothers was kind of overdone
...more
Marcy
I wept for the main characters, Sumi, Shento, and Tan in this novel. Shento and Tan were half brothers and bitter enemies. Sumi was the love of both of their lives. The setting begins at the height of China's Cultural Revolution and continues through the history of Communist China. To reveal more would spoil what every reader should experience on his/her own. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, and revenge are at the heart of this novel...Lives are made and destroyed in the name of love.

I have
...more
Suzanne
Having met the author and liked him, I feel sort of curmudgeonly about giving this book only three stars. I am aware of its strengths. Chen is an able storyteller; he keeps things moving along, and there is plenty of action and intrigue. (I kept seeing this as a Hollywood movie.) He sets the hyperbolic tone in the first few pages of the story, but I sometimes wondered why every character was the best at what he/she did. At times, the characters seemed to aquire money and power almost effortlessl ...more
Serena Vinter
I picked this book up because I head read a great review of a book called Brothers by a Chinese author. Turns out that book was by Yu Hua while this book, Brothers, is by the Chinese-American author Da Chen. My bad...

It was an interesting story but just not plausible. In a country of 1 billion people I find it hard to believe that two half-brothers who grow up not knowing each other fall in love with the same woman, who happens to have a younger sister who was given up for adoption and who was t
...more
Marvin
Yet another powerful novel of intense personal drama set in the context of the turbulent politics of Communist China. Told primarily in the voices of two sons (one legitimate & one illegitimate, orphaned, & unacknowledged) of a powerful Chinese general, later discredited, and of the woman they both love, it's like a 19th-century Russian novel--or one of Dickens, whom a couple of the characters in the book admire--in ambition, scope, and unlikely coincidences, on the verge of melodrama, b ...more
Shirley
Oct 10, 2014 Shirley rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes reading historical novels.
Good story based on Chinese history and culture. Long, but very engaging.
Keita Darling
Finished it in a day (I love holiday weekends!) and really enjoyed it all the way through. Somewhat less depth than i appreciate in the more heavily researched historical novels but the multi-dimensional and touching story sufficiently compensates. (Probably a good counterpoint to Memoirs of Cleopatra which I finished last week!) Also, its set in such a critical time period in China which I haven't actually read much about so it was a good segue. I'd recommend it!
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