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Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison 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).
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.
With this brilliantly imagined New York Times bestselling novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez.
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.
“Extravagantly beautiful. . . . A howl of love and rage, playful and funny as well as hard and bitter.” —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.
“Profoundly insightful. . . . Speaks to today’s social and political moment as directly as this morning’s headlines.” —NPR
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.
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 passionate, profound story of love and obsession brings us back and forth in time, as a narrative is assembled from the emotions, hopes, fears, and deep realities of black urban life.
"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
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, Beloved transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. This spellbinding novel tells the story of Sethe, a former slave who escapes to Ohio, but eighteen years later is still not free.
In The New York Times bestselling novel, The Bluest Eye, Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty and yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes, that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife.
With Song of Solomon, Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as she follows Milkman Dead from his rustbelt city to the place of his family's origins, introducing an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.
This beautifully designed slipcase will make the perfect holiday and perennial gift.
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
This fiery and provocative novel weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.
At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”
One of the Best Books of the Year: San Francisco Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kansas City Star
A national best seller, deemed "one of Morrison's most haunting works" by the New York Times, A Mercy 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.
This New York Times Notable Book is 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.
A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction
A Best Book of the Year: NPR, AV Club, St. Louis Dispatch