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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sula (1973) by Toni Morrison

Book Review
Sula (1973)
by Toni Morrison

  I'd gladly read all of Toni Morrison's in sequence at this point.  The introduction of the two Morrison novels I've read so far have both contained prefaces written by the author after she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.  Both prefaces emphasize that her books were not commercially nor critically successful upon publication in the mid 1970's.  The very fact that she had a job in academia (professor emeritus at Princeton University) testifies to the fact that her early novels were not commercially viable.   Of course, the Nobel Prize for Literature changes all that.   In 1993, everyone went back and reread Morrison' oeuvre. That's a process of recollection which continue today.

 Like Bluest Eye, Sula is waaaayyyyy darker than what you might expect if you have only a casual knowledge of Toni Morrison.  Like Bluest Eye, Sula is about African American women living in southern Ohio. They live segregated lives but escape the worst humiliations of southern racism.   Morrison's strong female characters eschew conventional morality out of a combination of choice and necessity.   In Sula, Morrison's multi-generational matriarchy has decidedly gothic touches, and at moments the behavior can seem positively Faulknerian.   To detail the incidents involved would spoil what little surprise is to be squeezed from the 170 pages of Sula, but the over-all merit of reading about the lives of economically disadvantaged African American women after three hundred years of English men and women overwhelms any picayune criticisms about a lack of length.

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