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10 Toni Morrison Books You Should Read

Article by Maureen Kasuku
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Posted: August 07, 2019  

Author  and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, passed away Monday, August 5th. She was 88.

Toni was best known for her novel Beloved, which won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The book was also adapted into a film of the same name in 1998, starring Oprah Winfrey.

The author wrote critically acclaimed novels including The Bluest EyeSong of SolomonSula and JazzShe was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993, the first black woman to win the prize.

If you haven’t read any of her books before, here are ten (10) of her literary works we recommend:

Beloved (1987)

Winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, this novel is arguably Morrison’s most well-known. It tells the story of Sethe, a former slave who escaped to Ohio in the 1870s. But despite her freedom, he finds herself haunted by the trauma of her past. In 1998, Oprah starred in the film adaptation.

The Bluest Eye (1970)

This debut novel follows a young Black girl named Pecola growing up in Lorain, Ohio—Morrison’s hometown—in the years following the Great Depression. Pecola is consistently teased about her dark skin, hair, and eyes, causing her to long for the white features she perceives to be more beautiful. (Blonde hair, light eyes, fair skin). But as the young girl prays for the miracle of blue eyes, her personal life takes a heartbreaking turn.

 Sula (1973)

Sula takes you through the lives and diverging paths of two best friends: Nel and Sula. One decides to stay in their hometown and raise a family, while the other leaves home for college, enjoying the city life. They soon reunite, coming to terms with their differences and the consequences of their own life choices.

 Song of Solomon (1977)

One of Morrison’s most celebrated works—a blend of realism, fable, and fantasy—Song of Solomon earned the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1978, and is an Oprah’s Book Club pick from 1996. It follows the life of Macon Dead, Jr. (a.k.a. Milkman) and the many mysteries plus unforgettable characters that surround him.

Tar Baby (1981)

This romance depicts the unlikely love affair of a young Black couple from two different worlds: Jadine is a beautiful fashion model accustomed to the life of the rich due to her family’s wealthy, white employers; Son is a poor fugitive. Together, they fight to live in a world where superficial differences don’t pit people against each other.

Jazz (1992)

 Set in 1920s Harlem, this historical story depicts the dramatic love triangle of door-to-door salesman Joe, his wife Violet, and his teenage girlfriend Dorcas. In a sudden twist of events, after Dorcas begins to resent and reject Joe, he kills the young girl. In the aftermath, a timeline is pieced together that lets you in on the emotions and lives of the tragic main characters.
Paradise (1997)
Paradise chronicles the events that lead to a shocking act of violence in Ruby—a patriarchal all-Black Oklahoma town.
Love (2003)

Centered around a deceased hotel owner named Bill Cosey—who died under suspicious circumstances—Love uses a split narrative that follows the lives of the many women who shared relationships with him. From his granddaughter to his widow, these women filled Cosey’s life with love and misery.

A Mercy (2008)

Offering insight into the slave trade of the 1680s, A Mercy follows an Anglo-Dutch adventurer who takes in a young girl named Florens after being traded in a debt payment. With the ability to read and write, she works on his farm, looking for love and protection from her fellow workers.

Home (2012)

Frank Money, a young Black veteran of the Korean War, returns home only to be thrust back into America’s race wars while also dealing with the trauma of combat. He eventually finds himself in his once-hated Georgia hometown to save his abused younger sister—a journey that seems to be his saving grace.

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