Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Map to the Door of No Return” as Want to Read:
A Map to the Door of No Return
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Map to the Door of No Return

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  360 ratings  ·  37 reviews
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, politi
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 25th 2001 by Random House of Canada Ltd
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Map to the Door of No Return, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Map to the Door of No Return

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  360 ratings  ·  37 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Map to the Door of No Return
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"I have not visited the Door of No Return, but by relying on random shards of history and unwritten memoir of descendants of those who passed through it, including me, I am constructing a map of the region, paying attention to faces, to the unknowable, to unintended acts of returning, to impressions of doorways. Any act of recollection is important, even looks of dismay and discomfort. Any wisp of a dream is evidence."- Dionne Brand, A Journey to the Door of No Return

There's a short list of bo
Stephanie Spines
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
The easiest 5 stars.

Brand is a literary genius.
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I want to give this book infinite stars. Part travelogue, part cartographic/geographic history, simultaneous unraveling/definition of diasporic Blackness, this book is gorgeous and brilliant and required.
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a dweller at the Door of No Return, from a slightly different context (a Canadian, with heritage from India via indentured laborers brought to Caribbean Trinidad), Brand’s book spoke to me not only from an academic level, but an intimate level that at times discomforts by reflecting/correcting/teaching me my own thoughts. A Map to the Door of No Return is beautiful, tragic, bleak yet stunning in its ability to capture poetry, memoir, travelogue, non-fiction, essay and slippages between langua ...more

The five stars have no meaning.

Bookstagram | Twitter
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is given to its reader as a precious gift. It is, as stated, a map. The subtitle, "Notes to Belonging," announces this counterintuitive project. Brand writes, "Too much has been made of origins. All origins are arbitrary. This is not to say that they are not also nurturing, but they are also coercive and indifferent" (64). She goes on, "Too much has been made of origins. And so if I reject this notion of origins I have also to reject its mirror, which is the sense of origins used by th ...more
Feb 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I limited by rating to three stars because I felt differentially engaged with each half of the book: the first half, which somehow seems less personal, more theoretical, is beautifully (poetically) written and thought-provoking, though it certainly does help to be familiar with the figures and works she discusses. The second half, which struck me as far more autobiographical, held me at more of a distance--somehow I was less engaged with this half of the work, and spent much more time grappling ...more
Aug 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, habit, canlit
Some lingering ambivalence about the door metaphor.
Kevin Krein
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
i came across this book thanks to a quote from it being used in the information from a video by rapper/producer slauson malone, for "smile #2." the quote is: "In the Diaspora, as in bad dreams, you are constantly overwhelmed by the persistence of the spectre of captivity."

a sprawling, disjointed narrative that takes you from her youth in the caribbean, to her adulthood in canada, and other places in between, i'm not sure i am smart enough for this book; it took me longer than it should have to r
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Attempting to explain the affect of the Door of No Return on Blacks in the Diaspora and how us as descendants of those who physically walked through that door continually navigate that door mentally, spiritually and geographically and to approach it just as dynamic and complicated as it is; could only be done by a poet- Brand. In fact, she equated complicating a matter as desire, beauty- see, who in this Cosmic universe would do that except a poet, certainly not an essayist or historian. This bo ...more
Kelsey Hlavaty (readingwithkelsey)
I feel like I'm in the minority of general feelings towards this book. I definitely felt engaged with this novel and was entertained throughout the first part. It was interesting and lyrical, which I really enjoyed. But the latter half of the novel felt so distant. It was autobiographical - which might be the reason for this. But still, I have read autobiographies where I had a similar situation and still found myself identifying with it. This book definitely presents a challenge to its readers ...more
Sonia Adams
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brand’s text is a multi-genre, complex text which explores the intricacies and dynamics of the Black Diaspora and its people. The text incorporates personal and familial narratives historical travel narratives, sociopolitical commentary, literary criticism, hemispheric studies, nautical history, postcolonial and critical race theories, fiction, and poetry to explore facets of migration, nationhood, blackness, gender, and class that impact the lives of black diasporic people.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: masters-year-1
Beautiful prose poetry about the heartbreak of wanting to know what has long ago been erased, of constructing a map to a place that may no longer exist, of trying to piece together something personal from what has been commodified.
Paul Lemcke
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'll call this 3 1/2 stars, and I'll round up because I enjoyed the first half so much. The first half was more free-flowing narrative, almost random at times, and the second half was more like a typical memoir.
Tanja Giljevic
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really loved this book! As I will never be able to view the world from Brand's perspective, it's important that I take in her writing.

My only complaint is that the writing is very dense. I reread several lines to savour them. This is not a beach read book.
A meditation on how the door to no return is a journey that opens out into the four cardinal directions, lacking a destination. This is the state of the Black Diaspora, which carries centuries of oceanic history that trace back to an ultimately unnamed place to which there is no return.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Another assigned book - a non-fiction narrative - about Black Diaspora. Through the author's travels, she illustrates how diaspora affects her to the very core.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
The door is a place, real, imaginary and imagined. This book is so beautiful and so heart breaking. It's a book about black suffering, black being and black becoming.
Lily C.
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Going to have to come back to this one as I never got a chance to finish it. 😟
Rachel C.
An extended personal essay on race, displacement and uncertainty. Dreamy, non-linear.
John Woakes
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I did not finish it. I found the poetic style hard to get into. I can imagine listening to this to be more satisfying than reading it.
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. Evocative, startling, lyrical.
Hannah Thiessen
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My prof! Super cool lady, amazing poet
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kashif Sharma-Patel
May 07, 2020 rated it liked it
interesting mix of genre, too meandering for me in the end, and doesn't quite deconstruct 'origins' to the extent that it thinks it can
Adam Geary
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most amazing books I've ever read.
Dec 20, 2015 added it
I feel like I would have to read this book 3 times, maybe 4, before I can actually understand what it is talking about. This is the first time I've read through it. I can say that it is a very beautiful book with beautiful style and beautiful prose. However, maybe the best way I can describe it is that it is like a 300 page poem. The way things are being said are in ways that are under so many different different layers that reading everything at face value actually makes no sense. There is no p ...more
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone interested in Black history and literature
Recommended to Doris by: my professor
Dionne Brand tries to capture in a very personal and global way living conditions of Blacks in the diaspora in this (non)autobiographical, fragmented, essayistic text. She uses a beautiful, highly poetic language and many things are just so well expressed you want to write down quotes from almost every page. Although the book has a very postmodern enigmatic aspect to it, it is a very good, intense read.
Mike Hayden
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OMGs this book was so amazing, so rich, poignant and lyrical. It is a breath removing ramble through the creation of identity and the black Diaspora. Well worth the read just to learn about the packinglot civilization and Brand's love fear and trembling about desire, literature, history and gender. Just so good.
Crystal  Belle
Feb 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
brand does an excellent job of writing about colonialism, neocolonialism and displacement. i love her writing style and the way she seemingly pulls you in. beautiful language and hard-hitting truths about feeling perpertually out of place as a result of history.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • In the Wake: On Blackness and Being
  • Zong!
  • Silencing the Past
  • Shut Up You're Pretty
  • How She Read
  • After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region
  • Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals
  • Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route
  • Frottage: Frictions of Intimacy Across the Black Diaspora
  • A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None
  • Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis
  • Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters
  • Peeps (Peeps, #1)
  • Bogus to Bubbly: An Insider's Guide to the World of Uglies
  • Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
  • Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
  • Ban en Banlieue
  • Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History; A Play in Three Acts
See similar books…
As a young girl growing up in Trinidad, Dionne Brand submitted poems to the newspapers under the pseudonym Xavier Simone, an homage to Nina Simone, whom she would listen to late at night on the radio. Brand moved to Canada when she was 17 to attend the University of Toronto, where she earned a degree in Philosophy and English, a Masters in the Philosophy of Education and pursued PhD studies in Wom ...more

News & Interviews

Contemporary young adult literature has often led the way in depicting the real-life issues facing teens from all backgrounds. To delve into ho...
35 likes · 2 comments
“Books leave gestures in the body; a certain way of moving, of turning, a certain closing of the eyes, a way of leaving, hesitations. Books leave certain sounds, a certain pacing; mostly they leave the elusive, which is all the story. They leave much more than the words.” 11 likes
“The Door of No Return - real and metaphoric as some places are, mythic to those of us who are scattered in the Americas today. To have one’s belonging lodged in a metaphor is voluptuous intrigue; to inhabit a trope; to be a kind of fiction. To live in the Black Diaspora I think is to live in a fiction - a creation of empires, and also self-creation. It is to be being living inside and outside herself. It is to apprehend the the sign one makes yet to be unable to escape it except in radiant moments of ordinariness made like art. To be a fiction in search of its most resonant metaphor then is even more intriguing.” 8 likes
More quotes…