All The Colour In The World

Item Information
Item#: 9781039003514
Author Richardson, Cs
On Hand 1

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2023 GILLER PRIZE • The story of the restorative power of art in one man’s life, set against the sweep of the twentieth century—from Toronto in the ’20s and ’30s, through the killing fields of World War II, to 1960s Sicily.

“Bold and resplendent.” —Nita Prose, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maid
“Supremely artful.” —Toronto Star

Henry, born 1916, thin-as-sticks, nearsighted, is an obsessive doodler—copying illustrations from his Boy’s Own magazines. Left in the care of a nurturing, Shakespeare-quoting grandmother, eight-year-old Henry receives as a gift his first set of colouring pencils (and a pocket knife for the sharpening). As he commits these colours to memory—cadmium yellow; burnt ochre; deep scarlet red—a passion for art, colour, and the stories of the great artists takes hold, and becomes Henry’s unique way of seeing the world. It is a passion that will both haunt and sustain him on his journey through the century: from boyhood dreams on a summer beach to the hothouse of art academia and a love cut short by tragedy; from the psychological wounds of war to the redemption of unexpected love.

Projected against a backdrop of iconic masterpieces—from the rich hues of the European masters to the technicolour magic of Hollywood—All the Colour in the World is Henry’s story: part miscellany, part memory palace, exquisitely precise with the emotional sweep of a great modern romance.

Review Quotes

“With stunning restraint and pathos, CS Richardson has given us a portrait of one man’s journey of the soul—across decades and continents, through loss and grief and hope. Both sweeping and minimalist, All the Colour in the World is Woolfian in its brushstrokes. Quiet moments of being are given as much weight as the chaos of war, and notes on the long history of art balance the depiction of one individual life. As much poetry and mosaic as it is a novel, with not a word out of place, this book is a triumph—a masterclass in how to paint an entire world.” —2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury

“Spare, elliptical, and supremely artful . . . [All the Colour in the World] studies a man buffeted—and buffeted again—by fateful circumstance. . . . A heady celebration of art, an act and form the author respects in all its facets.” —Toronto Star

All the Colour in the World will leave readers marveling at how its author says so much with so few words. . . . This novel, so simple and succinct, is a love story, a war story and at least a semester’s worth of an art history course all rolled into one. It is poetic and perceptive, tender, and touching, and a lovely work of art. . . . A beautiful testament to the enduring power and beauty of art and of love.” —Winnipeg Free Press

"Poetic." —The Globe and Mail

“Bold and resplendent, yet reduced to a singular essence, All the Colour in the World is a unique style piece and a moving evocation of character. Leave it to CS Richardson to find a way to paint with words.” —Nita Prose, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maid

“In saturated hues, the clicking slide show of Henry’s life reels through the carousel, flashes of brilliant images lending colour to the silvery grey-green backdrop of war in this thoughtful and beautiful book. Image after image flashes to form a kaleidoscope rendering of a fragile life—one that burns in the mind’s eye for a long time.” —Marina Endicott, author of Good to a Fault

“Richardson has an elegant, elliptical style, as unique as a personal signature. . . .  The life of his protagonist Henry is revealed in lightning flashes of memory and insight, like quick brushstrokes on a canvas. These recollections of joy and pain build with increasing emotional intensity throughout the novel. I was surprised and delighted that at the very outset, the narrator refers to the Japanese court lady Sei Shonagon and to the fragmentary zuihitsu style of writing. The word zuihitsu literally means “to follow the brush.” This strikes me as so apt. All the Colour in the World is a work I know I will come back to over and over to seek the beauty in the words and to follow the fluid arc of the author’s literary brush.” —Lynne Kutsukake, author of The Art of Vanishing