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A Map to the Door of No Return

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  244 ratings  ·  22 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
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4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  244 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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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.
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
Some lingering ambivalence about the door metaphor.
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
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.
Lily C.
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, essays, memoir, for-school
Going to have to come back to this one as I never got a chance to finish it. 😟
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
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.
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.
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book. I'm not sure how to categorize it. It's sort of like a collection of musings. I really liked the way it was written, and it really gave me a lot to think about in terms of the black diaspora. I love the concept of the Door of No Return. Brilliant.
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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
“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.” 8 likes
“I am not nostalgic. Belonging does not interest me. I had once thought that it did. Until I examined the underpinnings. One is mislead when one looks at the sails and majesty of tall ships instead of their cargo.” 3 likes
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