This book of collected essays, speeches, and meditations spans the length of Morrison's long and illustrious career. From investigating the ways in which American writers have confronted or failed to confront racism over the course of our literary history to illustrating how these same considerations have played out in her own novels, from essays about the changing language around war to beautiful commemorations of black leaders and thinkers, these words from one of the greatest novelists and thinkers of our time (of any time) ring true and inspiring and ask us to dig deeper and not settle for easy solutions or false promises. A great read for those who know and love Morrison's prior work as well as those who have yet to experience it. Recommended By Darla M., Powells.com
Morrison’s forceful, eloquent speeches on globalization, race, and literary criticism made me envious of her generations of lucky students. This is a thoughtful book, to be savored for its wisdom and fierce commitment to justice. Recommended By Lucinda G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Arguably the most celebrated and revered writer of our time now gives us a new nonfiction collection — a rich gathering of her essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades.
The Source of Self-Regard is brimming with all the elegance of mind and style, the literary prowess and moral compass that are Toni Morrison’s inimitable hallmark. It is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. In the writings and speeches included here, Morrison takes on contested social issues: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, “black matter(s),” and human rights. She looks at enduring matters of culture: the role of the artist in society, the literary imagination, the Afro-American presence in American literature, and in her Nobel lecture, the power of language itself. And here too is piercing commentary on her own work (including The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, and Paradise) and that of others, among them, painter and collagist Romare Bearden, author Toni Cade Bambara, and theater director Peter Sellars. In all, The Source of Self-Regard is a luminous and essential addition to Toni Morrison’s oeuvre.
“Morrison turns a critical eye on race, social politics, money, feminism, culture, and the press, with the essential mandate that each of us bears the responsibility for reaching beyond our superficial identities and circumstances for a closer look at what it means to be human.” Booklist (starred review)
“Some superb pieces headline this rich collection…Prescient and highly relevant to the present political moment…” Publishers Weekly
“Brilliantly incisive essays, speeches, and meditations considering race, power, identity, and art…Powerful, highly compelling pieces from one of our greatest writers.” Kirkus (starred review)
About the Author
TONI MORRISON is the author of eleven novels, from The Bluest Eye (1970) to God Help the Child (2015). 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 New York.