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A Mercy: A Novel

by

A Mercy: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780307264237
ISBN10: 0307264238
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Awards

The Rooster 2009 Morning News Tournament of Books Winner

Staff Pick

I disappeared into A Mercy like no novel in ages. Morrison's 17th-century panorama builds upon vivid scenes and characters until what emerges is nothing less than the forecast of America — both its ills and dreams.
Recommended by Dave, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"What a pleasure...to watch 77-year-old Toni Morrison, the last literary Nobelist (1993) from a culture dismissed this year as 'too insular' to merit the Swedish Academy's nod, bound into literature with her new book as if it were the first time, with the spry energy of a doe....[B]eguiling and beautiful...deftly condensed...sinewy with imaginative sentences, lyric flight and abundant human sensitivity." Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer (read the entire Philadelphia Inquirer review)

"The overlaps between the language of love and the language of ownership are undeniable, from the declaration of mutual ownership "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" from the biblical Song of Solomon (which is also the title of Morrison's best novel) to the conception of sex as "taking" or "possession." But while such tropes can appear to be innocent and even romantic, what Morrison is out to demonstrate is that slavery of any kind, even the enslavement in passion, is dangerous to the soul." Ruth Franklin, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A powerful tragedy distilled into a jewel of a masterpiece by the Nobel Prize-winning author of Beloved and, almost like a prelude to that story, set two centuries earlier.

In the 1680s the slave trade was still in its infancy. In the Americas, virulent religious and class divisions, prejudice and oppression were rife, providing the fertile soil in which slavery and race hatred were planted and took root.

Jacob 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, with the hands of a slave and the feet of a Portuguese lady. Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, but later from a handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved.

There are other voices: Lina, whose tribe was decimated by smallpox; their mistress, Rebekka, herself a victim of religious intolerance back in England; Sorrow, a strange girl who's spent her early years at sea; and finally the devastating voice of Florens' mother. These are all men and women inventing themselves in the wilderness.

A Mercy reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart it is the ambivalent, disturbing story of a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and of a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.

Acts of mercy may have unforeseen consequences...

Review:

"[R]iveting, even poetic....A fitting companion to her highly regarded Beloved." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Gorgeous language and powerful understanding of the darkest regions in the human heart....[T]his allusive, elusive little gem adds its own shadowy luster to the Nobel laureate's shimmering body of work." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

A new novel, set, like Beloved, in the American past. Nobel Prize-winning author Morrison's latest masterpiece centers on a powerful tragedy involving a mother and daughter, and reveals how acts of mercy have unforeseen consequences.

About the Author

Toni Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Princeton University. She has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She lives in Rockland County, New York, and Princeton, New Jersey.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Erica Horne, April 3, 2009 (view all comments by Erica Horne)
In her latest novel Toni Morrison takes us back to the late 17th century America. The plot gives her an opportunity to present America in the making, there is no US yet, there are colonies, each somewhat different in their culture, religion or attitude to slavery. Sending her characters on distant voyages Morrison adroitly shapes the plot in such a way as to give the reader at least an impression of the variety that America once was. The differences between people and places are the most clearly visible in the opposition between Maryland and New York yet the choice of characters also helps Morrison to stress the diversity of American roots.
And yet "A Mercy" is not just a historical novel. The setting is important but Morrison is much more interested in her characters presented in the novel with depth and insight. This concentration is reflected in the form of the book - we get to know about the events from the characters in a series of monologues which culminate in the final monologue of Florens' mother which ties some of the book's loose ends and answers some of its haunting questions.
Each of the monologues comes from a completely different character - a slave, a native American, a Dutch etc. - this variety is almost incredible but serves to add a depth to the book, broadens the view the reader gets.
As usual in Morrison's fiction the characters are mostly women. As a result the book to some degree fails as a HIStory book, it is much more of a HERstory book, offering the reader a selection of points of view usually missing in more traditional history writing both fictional and scholarly.
In short: another great book from a Nobel-prize winning novelist.
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(6 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
Beriah, December 25, 2008 (view all comments by Beriah)
This svelte novel is minimalistic like a needle. You will be pierced before you realize what took place. Don't underestimate it.
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(13 of 23 readers found this comment helpful)
tynlyd, December 16, 2008 (view all comments by tynlyd)
Beautiful! A great novel! I haven't liked the last couple she wrote but this one made me read it all in one day. Beautiful language and a great plot!
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(13 of 25 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307264237
Author:
Morrison, Toni
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Interracial adoption
Subject:
Racism
Subject:
African American girls
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Publication Date:
November 2008
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
176
Dimensions:
9.56x5.88x.88 in. .85 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Morning News Tournament » Tournament of Books 2009
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

A Mercy: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 176 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307264237 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I disappeared into A Mercy like no novel in ages. Morrison's 17th-century panorama builds upon vivid scenes and characters until what emerges is nothing less than the forecast of America — both its ills and dreams.

"Review A Day" by , "What a pleasure...to watch 77-year-old Toni Morrison, the last literary Nobelist (1993) from a culture dismissed this year as 'too insular' to merit the Swedish Academy's nod, bound into literature with her new book as if it were the first time, with the spry energy of a doe....[B]eguiling and beautiful...deftly condensed...sinewy with imaginative sentences, lyric flight and abundant human sensitivity." (read the entire Philadelphia Inquirer review)
"Review A Day" by , "The overlaps between the language of love and the language of ownership are undeniable, from the declaration of mutual ownership "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" from the biblical Song of Solomon (which is also the title of Morrison's best novel) to the conception of sex as "taking" or "possession." But while such tropes can appear to be innocent and even romantic, what Morrison is out to demonstrate is that slavery of any kind, even the enslavement in passion, is dangerous to the soul." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "[R]iveting, even poetic....A fitting companion to her highly regarded Beloved."
"Review" by , "Gorgeous language and powerful understanding of the darkest regions in the human heart....[T]his allusive, elusive little gem adds its own shadowy luster to the Nobel laureate's shimmering body of work."
"Synopsis" by , A new novel, set, like Beloved, in the American past. Nobel Prize-winning author Morrison's latest masterpiece centers on a powerful tragedy involving a mother and daughter, and reveals how acts of mercy have unforeseen consequences.
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