Toronto in Fiction Book Club

February 7, 2015 | Winona

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Read, share, discuss, and discover Toronto with the Toronto in Fiction Book Club.

There is something about reading a book set in Toronto that always gives me a bit of a thrill. I suppose it's a thrill of recognition, to turn the page and stumble across a familiar Toronto landmark. Or maybe it's the thrill of discovery, when it's a place in the city that I do not know. Do not know yet, that is...until I continue reading, turning the pages, exploring the city - its places, its people, maybe even something of its soul - through its stories.

If you would like to read, share, discuss, and discover Toronto through its stories, join us on the third Thursday of the month for an informal discussion about a selected book set in Toronto. Our first meeting will be held on Thursday February 19, 6:00-7:00 p.m., at the Toronto Reference Library, Discussion Room, 3rd Floor. All are welcome - no registration is required. 

This month's Toronto in Fiction Book Club selection is What We All Long For by former Toronto Poet Laureate Dionne Brand. A limited number of copies are currently available to borrow from the Toronto Reference Library 1st Floor Information Desk.

What We All Long For by Dionne BrandWhat We All Long For tells the stories of four second-generation Canadian friends living in Toronto and dealing with issues of race and identity. Though they try to define themselves as separate from their families they are inevitably drawn into past secrets and dramas. The city is a vivid character in this novel, which won the 2006 Toronto Book award, and was praised in The Globe and Mail review by Rinaldo Walcott, who wrote: "every great city has its literary moments, and contemporary Toronto has been longing for one. We can now say with certainty that we no longer have to long for a novel that speaks this city's uniqueness: Dionne Brand has given us exactly that."

Here is an excerpt:

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.


Related Reading:

Toronto in Fiction - Read how great writers imagine our city.

Historical Toronto Reading Lists - Fiction books set in Toronto during different time periods.

Toronto in Literature - Map of book lists by neighbourhood.

Reading Toronto: The Black Experience - Books by some of Toronto's great Black storytellers.

Arriving Soon - The City Builder Book Club - An online reading club with complementary booklists by Toronto Public Library librarians.