Toni Morrison’s World of Fiction
Since the last decade, the world has seen a shift in mass culture where fiction is again finding its place on the shelves, most of the times coinciding with other genres like autobiographical fiction and self -help books. In such times, Toni Morrison’s fictional writings have earned mass readership worldwide. Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison, popularly known as Toni Morrison received the prestigious Nobel Prize in literature in 1993 “who in her novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” (1)
Morrison came out to be the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature. Morrison, in her novels has given voice to those silent stories which were living in oblivion. She has the credit of being the author who has integrated stories of black lives living in America in the History of America.
Here are four essential reads to experience the fictional world of Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye:
The Bluest Eye is the first novel Written by Toni Morrison published in the year 1970. The novel is set in Lorain, Ohio and the protagonist of the story is Pecola Breedlove, a young African- American girl. The story is set in 1941- years following the Great Depression. The protagonist grows up in a society where she is considered ugly because of her skin colour and mannerisms. As a result, she develops inferiority complex. Pecola is seen striving for a pair of Blue Eyes- a symbol of beauty in the white society. The story is narrated by Claudia MacTeer. The book attempts an open discussion of racism, child sexual abuse, and incest which have led to numerous attempts to ban the novel, but still the book has remained a part of school and college syllabus.
Beloved was published in 1987 set after the American Civil War. The story surrounds around a family of former slaves whose home, located in Cincinnati is haunted by a spirit. The story of Beloved was inspired by an account of Margret Garner, published in newspaper article where the slave mother kills her own child. The powerful story of the novel won her the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for fiction in the following year. The work is also considered as the best work of American fiction between 1981 to 2006.
Song of Solomon–
Song of Solomon was published in 1977 and is her third published work. Song of Solomon deals with black lives in America with the birth of Macon Dead Jr. Known as Milkman son of the richest family in a Midwest town. He grows up in a house which is haunted both by money and death. In the quest for identity, he undertakes a journey from city to the countryside. The novel then takes a turn when milkman deciphers the twin text of history hidden in the song of Solomon which is still sung by the children. The novel then hits the history of black immigration. The end point of his journey marks the starting point of black History in America.
Sula was published in 1973 and is the second novel published by Toni Morrison. Sula and Nel both poor, black and smart grow up in the town of Ohio and dream about princes. Sula escapes the town following resentment only to be caught up in failing jobs, insurances and poor living. She roams the cities of America for next ten years and when she returns the town, she finds Nel married. She finds herself at odds in the society. The theme of this novel deals with the individualism of African woman, rights of individuals in general and of women in particular. Gender in relationship to race finds emphasis in this novel while class forms the third position after gender and race.
1 The Nobel Prize in Literature 1993. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize outreach AB 2021. Sat 18 Dec 2021. <http://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1993/summary/>