Map to the Door of No Return

Map to the Door of No Return

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“One enters a room and history follows; one enters a room and history precedes. History is already seated in the chair in the empty room when one arrives.”

Now entering its third decade in print, Dionne Brand’s groundbreaking A Map to the Door of No Return has emerged as a modern classic, a disquisition on ‘being’ in the Black diaspora.

“This book is a world, a triumph of art and thought, a compass for the ages.” —David Chariandy

Since its first publication in 2001, Dionne Brand’s groundbreaking disquisition on being in the Black diaspora, A Map to the Door of No Return, has emerged as a modern classic. The door, in Brand’s iconic schema, represents the point of rupture where the ancestors of the Black diaspora departed one world for another: the place where all names were forgotten, and all beginnings recast. “This door,” writes Brand, “is not mere physicality. It is a spiritual location. . . . Since leaving was never voluntary, return was, and still may be, an intention, however deeply buried. There is as it says no way in; no return.”

Through shards of history, memoir, lyrical investigation, and the unwritten experience of so many descendants of those who passed through the door, Brand constructs a map of this indelible region, culminating in an enduring expression, both definitive and seeking, of what it is to live, think, and create in the wake of colonization. 

With a new preface by the author, and a moving afterword by Saidiya Hartman.