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Volume 37, Number 2 (2012)

Beyond the Multiculture: Transnational Toronto in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For

  • Joanne Leow
September 4, 2013


In Pico Iyer’s autobiographical travelogue The Global Soul (2000), Toronto functions as a kind of ideal space of globalization, a representation that perpetuates the myth of Toronto as the pioneering bastion of successful multiculturalism. The contradictions and problematic assumptions inherent in Iyer’s “global” Toronto are thrown into sharp relief when set against Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For (2005). Focusing on the character of Quy particularly enables a more complex understanding of Toronto as a globalized urban space. The interpolation of Quy in the narrative constitutes a sustained examination of how multicultural Toronto is implicated in a distinctively unequal form of globalization. Such a reading of Brand’s novel reinforces recent critiques of global, multicultural cities articulated in Doreen Massey’s World City (2007) and Kit Dobson’s Transnational Canadas (2009).