dionne brand has decided to in-dulge herself, but at least she's done it intelligently. A Map To The Door Of No Return is a fragmentary book of memoirs, featuring her trademark flowing, image-dense prose. A meandering meditation, its search for belonging in a changing world works powerfully.
Insightful, frequently poetic and routinely nonsensical twists take the reader on an altogether personal journey through Brand's life. She finds meaning in half-forgotten childhood memories, broken information about her family's African roots and the diaspora's historical melange -- haunting tales scarred by the violence suffered by people who cannot define where home is any more.
The metaphoric door of no return upon which she fixates could be the ocean separating America and Africa. It could also be the way history can be stolen and never regained, or the racial divide caused by slavery and perpetuated by ignorance that all black people must come to terms with.
Brand never solves the riddle, but offers cryptic suggestions inspired by old books of maps given to her by friends, late-night readings, her own loneliness and the teachings of writers like Pablo Neruda and D.H. Lawrence.
Her spiralling, dream-like path becomes onerous at times, especially if you're the kind of person who wants to understand everything the first time. But when a writer's this good, it's worth installing her book next to the bed so you can glean pearls of wisdom in the middle of a sleepless night. Brand launches the book at Revival on Friday (September 28).