Synopses & Reviews
Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon
, a novel of large beauty and power, creates a magical world out of four generations of black life in America, a world we enter on the day of the birth of Macon Dead, Jr. (known as Milkman), son of the richest black family in a mid-western town; the day on which the lonely insurance man, Robert Smith, poised in blue silk wings, attempts to fly from a steeple of the hospital, a black Icarus looking homeward...
We see Milkman growing up in his father's money-haunted, death-haunted house with his silent sisters and strangely passive mother, beginning to move outward — through his profound love and combat with his friend Guitar...through Guitar's mad and loving commitment to the secret avengers called the Seven Days...through Milkman's exotic, imprisoning affair with his love-blind cousin, Hagar...and through his unconscious apprenticeship to his mystical Aunt Pilate, who saved his life before he was born.
And we follow him as he strikes out alone; moving first toward adventure and then — as the unspoken truth about his family and his own buried heritage announces itself — toward an adventurous and crucial embrace of life.
This is a novel that expresses, with passion, tenderness, and a magnificence of language, the mysterious primal essence of family bond and conflict, the feelings and experience of all people wanting, and striving, to be alive.
"Morrison is a terrific storyteller. . . . Her writing evokes the joyful richness of life." Newsday
"Toni Morrison is an extraordinarily good writer. Two pages into anything she writes one feels the power of her language and the emotional authority behind that language. . . . One closes the book warmed through by the richness of its sympathy, and by its breathtaking feel for the nature of sexual sorrow." The Village Voice
"A fine novel exuberantly constructed. . . . So rich in its use of common speech, so sophisticated in its use of literary traditions and language from the Bible to Faulkner . . . it is also extremely funny." The Hudson Review
"If Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man went underground, Toni Morrison's Milkman flies." The New York Times Book Review
"It places Toni Morrison in the front rank of contemporary American writers. She has written a novel that will endure." The Washington Post
"Toni Morrison has created a fanciful world here. . . . She has an impeccable sense of emotional detail. She's the most sensible lyrical writer around today." The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A marvelous novel, the most moving I have read in ten years of reviewing." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Morrison moves easily in and out of the lives and thoughts of her characters, luxuriating in the diversity of circumstances and personality, and reveling in the sound of their voices and of her own, which echoes and elaborates theirs." The New Yorker
"Lovely. . . . A delight, full of lyrical variety and allusiveness. . . . [An] exceptionally diverse novel." The Atlantic Monthly
"Morrison dazzles. . . . She creates a black community strangely unto itself yet never out of touch with the white world. . . . With an ear as sharp as glass she has listened to the music of black talk and uses it as a palette knife to create black lives and to provide some of the best fictional dialogue around today." The Nation
This novel takes readers into a magical and richly peopled world which encompasses four generations of African American life.
About the Author
One of the most celebrated writers of our time, Toni Morrison has become a distinctive literary voice in the 20th Century, and her works have become essential reading in the body of contemporary American fiction.
Toni Morrison was appointed Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University in the Spring of 1989.
Ms. Morrison has degrees from Howard and Cornell Universities. Among the universities where she has held teaching posts are Yale, Bard College and Rutgers. The New York State Board of Regents appointed her to the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at the State University of New York at Albany in 1984, a post she held until 1989. In 1988 she was the Obert C. Tanner Lecturer at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Professor at Syracuse University. In 1990 she delivered the Clark lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, and the Massey Lectures at Harvard University.
Her six major novels, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, and Jazz, have received extensive critical acclaim. She received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1977 for Song of Solomon and the 1988 Pulitzer prize for Beloved. Both novels were chosen as the main selections for the Book-of-the-Month Club, in 1977 and 1987 respectively. Her books of essays include Playing in the Dark, and her edited collection Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality. Forthcoming from Pantheon Books in early 1997 is another edited collection, Birth of a Nation'hood: Gaze, Script, and Spectacle in the O.J. Simpson Case, edited with Claudia Brodsky Lacour.
Her first play, Dreaming Emmett, was commissioned by the New York State Writers Institute of the State University of New York (1985). Meeting with favorable reviews, it drew audiences throughout New York and the entire Tri-State area.
Honey and Rue, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Kathleen Battle, with lyrics by Toni Morrison and music by Andre Previn, premiered in January 1992.
Ms. Morrison has received honorary degrees from Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Sarah Lawrence, Oberlin, Dartmouth, Yale, Georgetown, Columbia, Brown, the University of Michigan, and Universite Paris 7-Denis Diderot. She was also the first recipient of the Washington College Literary Award in 1987 and was New York State Governor's Arts Awardee in 1986.
Other prestigious awards include: the Modern Language Association of America Commonwealth Award in Literature, 1989; Sara Lee Corporation Front Runner Award in Arts, 1989; Anisfield Wolf Book Award in Race Relations, 1988; the Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature in 1978; and the Distinguished Writer Award of 1978 from the American Academy of Art and Letters.
She was a senior editor at Random House for twenty years.
Toni Morrison is a founding member of the Academie Universelle Des Cultures (at the Louvre, Paris), a Trustee of the New York Public Library, a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a member of the Author's Guild where she served on the Guild Council and as Foundation Treasurer. She served on the National Council of The Arts for six years and is a member of the Africa Watch and Helsinki Watch Committees on Human Rights.
In 1993 Ms. Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.