Books·Canadian

What We All Long For

Dionne Brand's novel follows the overlapping stories of a close circle of second-generation 20-somethings living in downtown Toronto.

Dionne Brand

The lives of four 20-somethings living on the margins of Toronto intersect in Dionne Brand's captivating novel. Their parents were immigrants to Canada; now, as they figure out who they are and what they want, the characters must reconcile their family's past with their own present in a dynamic, sometimes unforgiving and often challenging city. This is a richly rendered portrait of urban experience, luminously vivid in both its characterization and setting.

What We All Long For won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2006.

From the book

This city hovers above the forty-third parallel; that's illusory of course. Winters on the other hand, there's nothing vague about them. Winters here are inevitable, sometimes unforgiving. Two years ago, they had to bring the army in to dig the city out from under the snow. The streets were glacial, the electrical wires were brittle, the telephones were useless. The whole city stood still; the trees more than usual. The cars and driveways were obliterated. Politicians were falling over each other to explain what had happened and who was to blame — who had privatized the snow plows and why the city wasn't prepared. The truth is you can't prepare for something like that. It's fate. Nature will do that sort of thing — dump thousands of tons of snow on the city just to say, Don't make too many plans or assumptions, don't get ahead of yourself. Spring this year couldn't come too soon — and it didn't. It took its time — melting at its own pace, over running ice-blocked sewer drains, swelling the Humber River and the Don River stretching to the lake. The sound of the city was of trickling water.


From What We all Long For by Dionne Brand ©2005. Published by Vintage Canada.