In her beautifully wrought non-fi ction work A Map to the Door of No Return, which bears the provocative subtitle Notes to Belonging, the Trinidad-born Canadian writer Dionne Brand has her fi rst-person narrator tell about an unexpected illumination she receives during a casual encounter with an African parking-lot attendant in Toronto. “What’s happening?” she asks in a hurried act of recognition prompted more by the need to speed up the formalities of parking her car than by the obligation she feels to “preserve the thin camaraderie of the Diaspora.” “Look,” he says, “I come from one of the oldest cities in the world. The oldest civilization. They build a parking lot and they think that it is a civilization.”1 Shaking with laughter-which the African promptly adds to-Brand envisions this man surveying “their” civilization while spending most of his days squeezed into a parking-lot attendant’s booth. She guesses that he was probably dislocated up by a war and must now be brooding over the luck of his landing in “this unending parking lot, which is the sum of its civilization, laughing sardonically at himself.”2 As to her own location, she ponders over the fact that she does not come from any old city and her civilization is indeed represented by the parking lot. And yet, for a fl ashing moment she recognizes the implication of the African’s “they.”