Presenting: Toni Morrison
“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it”. Toni Morrison, the literary mother of many eminent writers, not only said these words but believed in them too. Isn’t it great that we can write what we feel? She shaped the minds of all ages and made them tell their own stories and the emotional architecture that she built is beautiful in all sense possible.
Toni Morrison was an American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher and professor emeritus at Princeton University. In the dark times, when the coloured people failed to believe in themselves she kindled the lost confidence and the Blacks would anchor upon her. Such was her stature. Morrison invalidated the white-gaze which was not ready to humanely accept the coloured people. She wrote and encouraged others to write about African tradition, religion, culture, and philosophy without reserve, even if the rest of the world did not approve of it. She captured the trauma of slavery and racism so powerfully, that one starts to share the pain, the agony, and the helplessness. She made humanity feel ashamed over its grotesque impartiality. She made us all experience what was their meaning without the white-lens.
Toni Morrison Notable Works
The Bluest Eye (1970)
The novel tells the story of Pecola, a bullied young black girl who wishes more than anything else for the hallmarks of white American beauty — blue eyes, blond hair, fair skin — and whose childhood rape by her father leads to her unraveling.
Two black women from the low-income Ohio neighborhood form a central relationship at the heart of Sula. A tragic accident causes their relationship to fall apart, and the novel follows the two as they go down wildly divergent life paths.
Song of Solomon
The story of Macon “Milkman” Dead, who grows up in the industrial Midwest against the backdrop of the Great Depression and then travels through Pennsylvania and Virginia to forge his own identity.
Haunted by an angry and vengeful specter. In the novel’s climax, it is revealed that Sethe believes the specter to be the ghost of her eldest daughter, whom she killed when she was two years old while hiding from her master, to spare her from the horrors of slavery.
Jazz — Morrison’s follow-up to Beloved which is composed of vignettes from one troubled couple’s life against the backdrop of 1920s Harlem — is eminently readable, in large part due to Morrison’s masterful command of world-building; it’s hard not to be drawn into the brutal and dizzying world of the two young lovers at the center of Morrison’s tale.
Set in a patriarchal community in rural Oklahoma, which finds itself under what it perceives as a threat by a nearby all-female town called the Convent, Paradise is a sprawling work that chillingly explores the process by which victims become victimizers.
Set against the backdrop of colonial-era slavery, it drew many comparisons to Morrison’s earlier work upon publication, largely due to the repetition of one specific plot point. But A Mercy is by no means a retreading: packed with Morrison’s trademark evocative language, the book delivers a rich and rewarding narrative within just 166 pages, proving Morrison a master of her chosen form.
Playing in the Dark
A compilation of three lectures Morrison gave at Harvard in the early 1990s, in which she speaks on the myriad ways the African-American experience was relegated to the background by white writers in an effort to establish a collective American literary identity