What We All Long For A Novel

Dionne Brand

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

336 Pages


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Dionne Brand powerfully delves into uncharted aspects of urban life, the bittersweetness of youth, and secrets families try to hide. Tuyen is an aspiring artist and the daughter of Vietnamese parents who've never recovered from losing one of their children while in the rush to flee Vietnam in the 1970s. She rejects her immigrant family's hard-won lifestyle, and instead lives in a rundown apartment with friends—each of whom is grappling with their own familial complexities and heartache.

In turns thrilling and heartbreaking, Tuyen's lost brother—who has since become a criminal in the Thai underworld—journeys to Toronto to find his long-lost family. As Quy's arrival nears, tensions build, friendships are tested, and an unexpected encounter will forever alter the lives of Tuyen and her friends.

Gripping at times, heartrending at others, What We All Long For is an ode to a generation of longing and identity, and to the rhythms and pulses of a city and its burgeoning, questioning youth.


Praise for What We All Long For

"Superb . . . Brand's best novel yet."—National Post

"Brand . . . translates our desires and experiences into a language, an art that allows [her] to voice that which we live, but could not utter or bring to voice until she did so for us."—The Globe and Mail

"Brand's most accomplished novel yet. . . . both credible and incredible."—Quill & Quire
"Brand is quite subtle and nuanced in her analysis of her characters."—Toronto Star

"A wonderfully layered and polyphonic novel . . . [Brand's] writing enfolds a generosity or openness that enables it to transcend its 'artifice.' These qualities are on display in abundance in this moving novel of how families, histories and geographies shape the nature of dreams."—Vue Weekly (Edmonton)

"What We All Long For is a watershed novel."—National Post

"Brand's text is gifted with unavoidable questions of what partnership means."—Herizons

"Despite their hip exteriors, the four Toronto 20-somethings at the heart of Brand's solid novel all struggle with issues of race and identity. Tuyen, a lesbian artist, is the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who still grieve for the son they lost in Vietnam. Carla, a biracial woman, grapples with a misplaced sense of responsibility for her younger brother, Jamal, whose rap sheet is more than Carla can fix. Oku struggles under the watchful, and often resentful, eye of his father, a Jamaican immigrant who feels both threatened and frustrated by his son's poetic aspiration. Jackie, a young black woman whose family came to Toronto from Halifax, vicariously mourns the loss of her parents' youthful dreams. Although the friends have an unspoken rule never to talk of family, the problems of home spill inevitably into their daily lives, culminating in an explosive moment when the families finally meet . . . the emotional depth of her characters provides original insight on the young urban dweller."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Dionne Brand

  • Dionne Brand won the Governor General's Award for poetry and the Trillium Award in 1997 for Land to Light On. In 2003 she won the Pat Lowther Award for poetry for her book Thirsty. Her novels include In Another Place, Not Here and At the Full and Change of the Moon. She lives in Toronto.