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Literary Criticism Women Authors

An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading

by (author) Dionne Brand

The University of Alberta Press, Canadian Literature Centre / Centre de littérature canadienne
Initial publish date
Jan 2020
Women Authors, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2020
    List Price

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The geopolitics of empire had already prepared me for this…coloniality constructs outsides and insides—worlds to be chosen, disturbed, interpreted, and navigated—in order to live something like a real self.

Internationally acclaimed poet and novelist Dionne Brand reflects on her early reading of colonial literature and how it makes Black being inanimate. She explores her encounters with colonial, imperialist, and racist tropes; the ways that practices of reading and writing are shaped by those narrative structures; and the challenges of writing a narrative of Black life that attends to its own expression and its own consciousness.

About the author


Dionne Brand is internationally known for her poetry, fiction, and essays. She has received many awards, notably the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, the Trillium Award (Land to Light On), 1997), the Pat Lowther Award (Thirsty, 2005), the City of Toronto Book Award (What We All Long For, 2006), and the Harbourfront Festival Award (2006), given in recognition of her substantial contribution to literature. She is a professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.

Leslie C. Sanders is a professor at York University, where she teaches African American and Black Canadian literature. She is the author of The Development of Black Theatre in America, the editor of two volumes of Langston Hughes’s performance works, and a general editor of the Collected Works of Langston Hughes. She has written essays on African American and Black Canadian literature.


Dionne Brand's profile page


  • Short-listed, Trade Non-Fiction Book of the Year | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta
  • Winner, AUPresses Book, Jacket, & Journal Show - Poetry and Literature

Editorial Reviews

“An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading is exemplary and eye-opening. It reckons with coloniality and the narrative demands it makes in our lives and in our stories, examining canonical texts through close-reading strategies and reflexive thinking that are unparalleled in their clarity and rigour.” [Full article at]

The Humber Literary Review

"How ... do we begin to detoxify our reading practice in a way that lets the reader into the frame, away from the aegis of racism, xenophobia, and violence that layer our 'timeless' classics?"

Shivanee Ramlochan

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