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In 1824, on the island of Trinidad, Marie Ursule, queen of a secret society of militant slaves, plots a mass suicide - a quiet, passionate act of revolt. But she cannot bring herself to kill her small daughter, Bola, whom she smuggles away in the early dawn light. As Bola's children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren spill out across the world to America, Canada and Europe, they find their lives both haunted and vindicated by the dreams and passions of their defiant ancestor. The interconnected stories of six generations of Marie Ursule's descendants form a lush, beguiling and beautifully told history of dispossession, and bring this Governor General's Award-winning writer into the front rank of the world's novelists.From the Trade Paperback edition.
essays, social criticism on race, sex, class
Beautiful and meticulously wrought, set in both Toronto and the Caribbean, this astonishing novel gives voice to the power of love and belonging in a story of two women, profoundly different, each in her own spiritual exile.
From our acclaimed poet and novelist: a gem of a novel that sizzles about love--between lovers, between friends, and for the places we live in--and pays homage to each moment of experience. Love lasted only one year but the time felt like several springs strung together. In Love Enough, the sharp beauty of Brand's writing draws us effortlessly into the intersecting stories of her characters caught in the middle of choices, apprehensions, fears. Each of the tales here--June's, Bedri's, Da'uud's, Lia's opens a different window on the city they all live in, mostly in parallel, but occasionally, delicately, touching and crossing one another. Each story radiates other stories. In these pages, the urban landscape cannot be untangled from the emotional one; they mingle, shift and cleave to one another. The young man Bedri experiences the terrible isolation brought about by an act of violence, while his father, Da'uud, casualty of a geopolitical conflict, driving a taxi, is witness to curious gestures of love and anger; Lia faces the sometimes unbridgeable chasms of family; and fierce June, ambivalent and passionate with her string of lovers, now in middle age discovers: "There is nothing universal or timeless about this love business. It is hard if you really want to do it right." Brand is our greatest observer--of actions, of emotions, of the little things that often go unnoticed but can mean the turn of a day. At once lucid and dream-like, Love Enough is a profoundly modern work that speaks to the most fundamental questions of how we live now.
A Map to the Door of No Return is a timely book that explores the relevance and nature of identity and belonging in a culturally diverse and rapidly changing world. It is an insightful, sensitive and poetic book of discovery. Drawing on cartography, travels, narratives of childhood in the Caribbean, journeys across the Canadian landscape, African ancestry, histories, politics, philosophies and literature, Dionne Brand sketches the shifting borders of home and nation, the connection to place in Canada and the world beyond. The title, A Map to the Door of No Return, refers to both a place in imagination and a point in history -- the Middle Passage. The quest for identity and place has profound meaning and resonance in an age of heterogenous identities. In this exquisitely written and thought-provoking new work, Dionne Brand creates a map of her own art.
Dionne Brand's hypnotic, urgent long poem - her first book of poetry in four years, is about the bones of fading cultures and ideas, about the living museums of spectacle where these bones are found. At the centre of Ossuaries is the narrative of Yasmine, a woman living an underground life, fleeing from past actions and regrets, in a perpetual state of movement. She leads a solitary clandestine life, crossing borders actual (Algiers, Cuba, Canada), and timeless. Cold-eyed and cynical, she contemplates the periodic crises of the contemporary world. This is a work of deep engagement, sensuality, and ultimate craft from an essential observer of our time and one of the most accomplished poets writing today.From the Trade Paperback edition.
"They were born in the city from people born elsewhere." What We All Long For follows the overlapping stories of a close circle of second-generation twenty-somethings living in downtown Toronto. There's Tuyen, a lesbian avant-garde artist and the daughter of Vietnamese parents who've never recovered from losing one of their children in the crush to board a boat out of Vietnam in the 1970s. Tuyen defines herself in opposition to just about everything her family believes in and strives for. She's in love with her best friend Carla, a biracial bicycle courier, who's still reeling from the loss of her mother to suicide eighteen years earlier and who must now deal with her brother Jamal's latest acts of delinquency. Oku is a jazz-loving poet who, unbeknownst to his Jamaican-born parents, has dropped out of university. He is in constant conflict with his narrow-minded and verbally abusive father and tormented by his unrequited love for Jackie, a gorgeous black woman who runs a hip clothing shop on Queen Street West and dates only white men. Like each of her friends, Jackie feels alienated from her parents, former hipsters from Nova Scotia who never made it out of subsidized housing after their lives became entangled with desire and disappointment. The four characters try to make a life for themselves in the city, supporting one another through their family struggles.There's a fifth main character, Quy, the child who Tuyen's parents lost in Vietnam. In his first-person narrative, Quy describes how he survived in various refugee camps, then in the Thai underworld. After years of being hardened, he has finally made his way to Toronto and will soon be reunited with his family - whether to love them or hurt them, it's not clear. His story builds to a breathless crescendo in an ending that will both shock and satisfy readers.What We All Long For is a gripping and, at times, heart-rending story about identity, longing and loss in a cosmopolitan city. No other writer has presented such a powerful and richly textured portrait of present-day Toronto. Rinaldo Walcott writes in The Globe and Mail: "... every great city has its literary moments, and contemporary Toronto has been longing for one. We can now say with certainty that we no longer have to long for a novel that speaks this city's uniqueness: Dionne Brand has given us exactly that." Donna Bailey Nurse writes in the National Post: "What We All Long For is a watershed novel. From now on, Canadian writers will be pressed to portray contemporary Toronto in all its multiracial colour and polyphonic sound." But What We All Long For is not only about a particular city. It's about the universal experience of being human. As Walcott puts it, "Brand makes us see ourselves differently and anew. She translates our desires and experiences into a language, an art that allows us to voice that which we live, but could not utter or bring to voice until she did so for us."
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