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About Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She is the author of several novels, including The Bluest Eye, Beloved (made into a major film), and Love. She has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize. She is the Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton University.
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Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The acclaimed Nobel Prize winner powerfully examines our obsession with beauty and conformity—and asks questions about race, class, and gender with her characteristic subtly and grace.
In Morrison’s bestselling first novel, Pecola Breedlove—an 11-year-old Black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others—prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
Here, Morrison’s writing is “so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry” (The New York Times).
Nel and Sula's devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret. It endures even after Nel has grown up to be a pillar of the black community and Sula has become a pariah. But their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal—or does it end? Terrifying, comic, ribald and tragic, Sula is a work that overflows with life.
Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. As Morrison follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, she introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized Black world.
With a word or a smile, seventeen-year-old Johnny Peterson could light up a room, fill his mother’s heart with pride, and inspire the best in those around him. A star athlete and class valedictorian, tall, lanky Johnny had a future filled with promise--until he stepped into a car on prom night, dazzling in his rented tux, and in an instant, it was all taken away.
In the months that follow, Johnny’s family and high school sweetheart, Becky, struggle to put together the pieces of their shattered lives. No one is more devastated than Johnny’s mother, Alice, whose oldest son owned her heart from the day he was born. But amid the heartache, something miraculous is about to happen to the Peterson family, something that will alter the course of each of their lives. When a sudden illness sends Alice to the hospital, a glorious vision comes to her in her dreams. There, standing before her, is Johnny himself, with that familiar twinkle in his eye, gently urging his bewildered mother to be strong for her splintered family. For Alice, seeing her marvelous lost boy is a miracle she can’t quite believe but is more than willing to embrace. In the weeks to come, Johnny will appear in the most unlikely places, visible only to the two people who need him most: his nine-year-old brother, locked in a silent world, whose special needs Johnny always seemed to understand…and his mother, who has always nurtured her family, but who now needs a guardian angel of her own.
Through a season of hope and healing, Johnny will walk by his mother’s side, leaving miracles in his wake, leading his parents, his girlfriend, his sister, and his brother out of their grief. But as Alice is about to discover, Johnny has returned not just to help those he loves, but to uncover a purpose even he cannot comprehend--one that will change them all forever.
An unforgettable story of loving and letting go, of mixed blessings and second chances, Johnny Angel is a celebration of life, hope, and forgiveness. It will make you laugh and cry…and hold your loved ones just a little bit closer.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In "one of Morrison's most haunting works" (New York Times) the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart, like Beloved, it is the story of a mother and a daughter—a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.
In the 1680s the slave trade in the Americas is still in its infancy. Jacob Vaark is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh North. Despite his distaste for dealing in “flesh,” he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, who can read and write and might be useful on his farm. Rejected by her mother, Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, and later from the handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved, who comes riding into their lives.
“A puzzle of a story, then—a game.... When [Morrison] called Recitatif an ‘experiment’ she meant it. The subject of the experiment is the reader.” —Zadie Smith, award-winning, best-selling author of White Teeth
In this 1983 short story--the only short story Morrison ever wrote--we meet Twyla and Roberta, who have known each other since they were eight years old and spent four months together as roommates in St. Bonaventure shelter. Inseparable then, they lose touch as they grow older, only later to find each other again at a diner, a grocery store, and again at a protest. Seemingly at opposite ends of every problem, and at each other's throats each time they meet, the two women still cannot deny the deep bond their shared experience has forged between them.
Another work of genius by this masterly writer, Recitatif keeps Twyla's and Roberta's races ambiguous throughout the story. Morrison herself described Recitatif, a story which will keep readers thinking and discussing for years to come, as "an experiment in the removal of all racial codes from a narrative about two characters of different races for whom racial identity is crucial." We know that one is white and one is Black, but which is which? And who is right about the race of the woman the girls tormented at the orphanage?
A remarkable look into what keeps us together and what keeps us apart, and how perceptions are made tangible by reality, Recitatif is a gift to readers in these changing times.
In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joe’s wife, Violet, attacks the girl’s corpse. This novel “transforms a familiar refrain of jilted love into a bold, sustaining time of self-knowledge and discovery. Its rhythms are infectious” (People).
"The author conjures up worlds with complete authority and makes no secret of her angst at the injustices dealt to Black women.” —The New York Times Book Review
These pages give us her searing prayer for the dead of 9/11, her Nobel lecture on the power of language, her searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., her heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. She looks deeply into the fault lines of culture and freedom: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, “black matter(s),” human rights, the artist in society, the Afro-American presence in American literature. And she turns her incisive critical eye to her own work (The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, Paradise) and that of others.
An essential collection from an essential writer, The Source of Self-Regard shines with the literary elegance, intellectual prowess, spiritual depth, and moral compass that have made Toni Morrison our most cherished and enduring voice.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A New York Times Notable Book • From the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner: an emotional powerhouse of a novel about a modern Odysseus returning to a 1950s America mined with lethal pitfalls for an unwary Black man
When Frank Money joined the army to escape his too-small world, he left behind his cherished and fragile little sister, Cee. After the war, he journeys to his native Georgia with a renewed sense of purpose in search of his sister, but it becomes clear that their troubles began well before their wartime separation. Together, they return to their rural hometown of Lotus, where buried secrets are unearthed and where Frank learns at last what it means to be a man, what it takes to heal, and—above all—what it means to come home.
In prose that soars with the rhythms, grandeur, and tragic arc of an epic poem, Toni Morrison challenges our most fiercely held beliefs as she weaves folklore and history, memory and myth into an unforgettable meditation on race, religion, gender, and a far-off past that is ever present.
“They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time.” So begins Toni Morrison’s Paradise, which opens with a horrifying scene of mass violence and chronicles its genesis in an all-black small town in rural Oklahoma. Founded by the descendants of freed slaves and survivors in exodus from a hostile world, the patriarchal community of Ruby is built on righteousness, rigidly enforced moral law, and fear. But seventeen miles away, another group of exiles has gathered in a promised land of their own. And it is upon these women in flight from death and despair that nine male citizens of Ruby will lay their pain, their terror, and their murderous rage.
“A fascinating story, wonderfully detailed. . . . The town is the stage for a profound and provocative debate.” —Los Angeles Times