New Romance

Jane Miller

  • Jazz by Toni Morrison
    Chatto, 229 pp, £14.99, April 1992, ISBN 0 7011 3449 6

Within the first half-page of Toni Morrison’s novel, an 18-year-old girl has been shot dead by her middle-aged lover, and his wife has been manhandled from the funeral after attempting to cut the dead girl’s face with a knife. Both events are witnessed and kept secret by a community which has reason to distrust the police and to look kindly upon a hitherto gentle, childless couple, whose sudden, violent sorrows they recognise and are able to forgive. And as the spring of that year, 1926, bursts a month or two later upon the ‘City’ of this extraordinary novel, its all-seeing gossip of a narrator is moved to declare – if only provisionally – that ‘history is over, you all, and everything’s ahead at last.’

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