All the Colour in the World

All the Colour in the World

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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.

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