Brothers is Nico Slate’s poignant memoir about Peter Slate, aka XL, a Black rapper and screenwriter whose life was tragically cut short. Nico and Peter shared the same White American mother but had different fathers. Nico’s was White; Peter’s was Black. Growing up in California in the 1980s and 1990s, Nico often forgot about their racial differences until one night in March 1994 when Peter was attacked by a White man in a nightclub in Los Angeles.
Nico began writing Brothers with the hope that investigating the attack would bring him closer to Peter. He could not understand that night, however, without grappling with the many ways race had long separated him from his brother.
This is a memoir of loss—the loss of a life and the loss at the heart of our racial divide—but it is also a memoir of love. The love between Nico and Peter permeates every page of Brothers. This achingly beautiful memoir presents one family’s resilience on the fault lines of race in contemporary America.
About the Author
Nico Slate is a Professor in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University, and the author of four books, including Lord Cornwallis Is Dead: The Struggle for Democracy in the United States andIndia and Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet: Eating with the World in Mind.
"A searing, hauntingly poignant memoir."—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Let’s be clear. Brothers is a love story. A tragic, beautiful, riveting, soulshaking love story. It is a love story between boys, men, mothers and sons, fathers and sons, and brothers. It is a love story that doesn’t so much cross the color line as study it and reveal its elusive nature, its shape-shifting form as border, wall, bludgeon, rope, threshold, even a lifeline. Nico Slate writes with clarity, disarming honesty, rawness, and beauty matched only by his brother’s extraordinary life and character. Brothers is a journey of discovery and recovery, an unfinished struggle to piece together the fragments of a man who, in the midst of wrestling with his own demons and disappointments, managed to make those he loved whole. Concealed in the many lives of Peter Slate, there is more here than meets the eye.”—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
“A gripping and pertinent account, Brothers explores the bonds of race, family, and love with disarming honesty and probing insight.”—Jasmin Darznik, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir The Good Daughter
“This captivating memoir, written by acclaimed historian Nico Slate, recounts the remarkable, yet tragically short, life of Slate’s older brother as he navigated the complex terrain of race in the United States. In lively and compelling prose, Slate offers an honest and moving story that illuminates the power of family and the true meaning of brotherhood. This memoir challenges and inspires, leaving readers with a treasure trove of rich insights on race, history, and family.”—Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom
“Slate’s memoir Brothers circles the question of race’s meaningingfulness [sic] and meaninglessness as a social construct as seen through the relationship of two siblings: one Black and one white. Brothers is a memento mori for Slate’s older brother Peter, a prolific scriptwriter and DJ also known as XL the 1I…. A gentle elegy, Brothers also goes beyond grief and childhood memories to comment on culture’s intimate ramifications while resurrecting the complexity of Peter as a person: creative, dreamer, brother, father figure, and Black man.”—Foreword