Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

What We All Long For

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

What We All Long For

Article excerpt

Dionne Brand, What We All Long For (Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2005), 319pp. Cloth. $29.95. ISBN 0-676-97167-9.

What We All Long For, Dionne Brand's third novel and most recent addition to the Brand oeuvre, is the direct product of over a decade's exploration of Toronto in prose form. The transformative project seen in Brand's earlier works, such as her first novel In Another Place, Not Here (1996) and the poetry collection Thirsty (2002), comes to the fore in this latest work as Brand continues to remap and recreate Canada's urban landscape.

Longing structures this novel, creating webs of connection not only between the four young protagonists of the text - Tuyen, Carla, Oku and Jackie - but also stretching out to encompass the whole city of Toronto and, beyond that, the world. Tuyen brings these longings to life through her art installations. Hanging a huge diaphanous sheet of material against a wall, Tuyen inscribes on to it entries from her 'book of longings' (p. 151). Her art piece develops alongside the narrative, and as the novel draws to an end Tuyen envisions an installation which combines the 'old longings of another generation . . . with the constantly changing . . . images and texts of contemporary longing', including even the horrible and destructive (p. 309).

The image of Tuyen's installation acts as a useful way in to what Brand is trying to achieve in this novel. By using this gathering of longings as her focus, Brand explores the intersection, and at times extreme separation, between two generations of inhabitants in Toronto. Thus, the desire for escape from families, the burden of an earlier generation's expectations and the fear of making the same mistakes are recurring concerns in the novel. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.