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Eleanor Birne: Toni Morrison, 19 August 2004

by Toni Morrison.
Vintage, 202 pp., £6.99, August 2004, 0 09 945549 8
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... Last year I went to the South Bank to hear Toni Morrison read from this novel. The event was sold out many weeks in advance. I got there early and watched the place fill up with middle-aged white women in twin-sets accompanied by teenage daughters in ripped jeans, young black women in groups of three or four in dark business suits or bright headscarves, smart Indian couples and Rasta men, one of them carrying his son on his shoulders ...

Understanding slavery

Jane Miller, 12 November 1987

by Toni Morrison.
Chatto, 275 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 7011 3060 1
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... Toni Morrison’s novels have been constructed, and are magically unsettled, by the unique character of historical memory for black Americans. That is to say, she has wanted to account for black experience that has been ignored or quite inadequately narrated by white historians and novelists, and even more significantly, in order to do that she has needed to confront precisely those aspects of the experience which have blocked memory, made remembering intolerable and memories inexpressible, literally unspeakable ...

Feathered Wombs

Zoë Heller: Toni Morrison, 7 May 1998

by Toni Morrison.
Chatto, 300 pp., £16.99, April 1998, 0 7011 6041 1
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... Something amazing has happened to Toni Morrison’s reputation in the United States. Over the last ten years, since the publication of Beloved, her fifth novel, she has been catapulted from the teeming ranks of well-known, well-respected fiction writers, to the thin-aired plane reserved for America’s deities and seers ...

Eyes that Bite

Anne Enright, 5 January 2023

The Bluest Eye 
by Toni Morrison.
Vintage, 240 pp., £9.99, February, 978 1 78487 644 9
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... I wonder is it time to let this memory go.In the spring of 1988, a series of small paperbacks by Toni Morrison arrived in Dublin to accompany the hardback of Beloved. I opened one at random in a shop called Books Upstairs, read for a while, and decided to work my way through her novels in the order they were written. I didn’t know ...

Capital W, Capital W

Michael Wood: Women writers, 19 August 1999

Women Writers at Work 
edited by George Plimpton.
Harvill, 381 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 1 86046 586 2
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Just as I Thought 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 332 pp., £8.99, August 1999, 1 86049 696 2
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... first published as a volume in 1988, and now expanded and updated to include Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Susan Sontag, Margaret Atwood remarks that the writers have been brought together ‘over what, in some cases, would be their dead bodies’. Dorothy Parker, for instance, says she is ‘a feminist, and God knows I’m loyal to my sex ...

Lost Names

Andrea Brady: Lucille Clifton, 22 April 2021

how to carry water: Selected Poems 
by Lucille Clifton, edited by Aracelis Girmay.
BOA, 256 pp., £19.99, September 2020, 978 1 950774 14 2
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... play The Amen Corner. She became friends with Amiri Baraka (then LeRoi Jones), Roberta Flack and Toni Morrison, who later encouraged her to write her memoirs using dictation to capture her family’s speech. But she felt awkward, embarrassed by her poverty, and out of her depth. She was mistaken for someone’s mama when she got off the train. After a ...

New Romance

Jane Miller, 14 May 1992

by Toni Morrison.
Chatto, 229 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 0 7011 3449 6
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... 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 ...

Pwaise the wabbit

Claudia Johnson, 1 August 1996

Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings 
by Hugh Kenner.
California, 114 pp., £12, September 1994, 0 520 08797 6
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... University of California Press with the intention of celebrating American creativity. Books about Toni Morrison and Miles Davis will strike no one as unusual, although the volumes on Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, and Mabel McKay, a native American medicine woman, were less conventional. Chuck Jones falls somewhere in between. Until he won the ...

Eating people is right

Paul Delany, 21 February 1985

Modern Times 
by Peter York.
Heinemann, 128 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 434 89260 2
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Face Value: The Politics of Beauty 
by Robin Tolmach Lakoff and Raquel Scherr.
Routledge, 312 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 0 7100 9742 5
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... It is artificial, superficial and unfair. Romantic love and beauty, says black novelist Toni Morrison, are ‘probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought’. Taking all this for gospel, Face Value sets out to explore the ‘secret shame’ of feminism: a guilty obsession with looks and make-up. The authors admit that ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... male [and] young’ by the end. Christopher Buckley goes way out on a limb and mentions Toni Morrison. Several journalists have suggested Mandy Grunwald’s sister Lisa, the author of Summer and The Theory of Everything, but she is a very different kind of novelist. All these people have denied any connection with the book. The odds seem to be ...


Alan Hollinghurst, 19 November 1981

by Michel Tournier, translated by Anne Carter.
Collins, 452 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 00 221448 2
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The Death of Men 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 249 pp., £6.50, October 1981, 0 370 30339 3
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Tar Baby 
by Toni Morrison.
Chatto, 309 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7011 2596 9
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... up a more provocative and spacious dialectic between qualities in his own creative temperament. Toni Morrison’s much-praised and highly successful novel Tar Baby has now reached England, and it, too, is more spacious and complex than her previous work, though its gain in scope is accompanied by an intensification of some of her idiosyncrasies of ...

In the Box

Dale Peck, 6 February 1997

How Stella Got Her Groove Back 
by Terry McMillan.
Viking, 368 pp., £16, September 1996, 0 670 86990 2
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by Sapphire.
Secker, 142 pp., £7.99, September 1996, 0 436 20291 3
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The Autobiography of My Mother 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Vintage, 228 pp., £8.99, September 1996, 0 09 973841 4
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... Others might date it to the late Sixties and early Seventies, when such writers as Nikki Giovanni, Toni Cade Bambara, Ntozake Shange, Sonia Sanchez and Paule Marshall helped redefine and expand the parameters of the mainstream in American publishing. This ‘middle period’ was, I think, capped in 1982 by the publication of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen, 11 October 2018

... Amis drinks these days, and where? These scenarios seem unlikely. But perhaps they keep a file on Toni Morrison, who – as a photo that recently went viral made clear – hung out with Angela Davis in the early 1970s, and surely Don DeLillo’s speculations on Lee Harvey Oswald in Libra merited attention. There is at least one known case. In 2013 ...


Adam Lively, 10 March 1994

The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness 
by Paul Gilroy.
Verso, 261 pp., £11.95, November 1993, 0 86091 675 8
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Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Culture 
by Paul Gilroy.
Serpent’s Tail, 257 pp., £12.99, October 1993, 9781852422981
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... a persuasive case for seeing this ambivalence as central to the writings of Du Bois, Wright and Toni Morrison, and to black music. Some of the essays in Small Acts are rehearsals for The Black Atlantic, and there is a certain amount of repetition within the collection. But there are also valuable pieces on popular culture – Frank Bruno, Spike ...

Its Own Dark Styx

Marina Warner, 20 March 1997

The Nature of Blood 
by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 224 pp., £15.99, February 1997, 0 571 19073 1
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... of the most powerful recent or contemporary novelists. In its shadowed and unreliable depths Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ishiguro, Leonardo Sciascia, Alejo Carpentier have searched out their material, reflections of ourselves; and from A State of Independence his second novel (1986), to The Nature of Blood, Caryl Phillips, too, has been scrying for ...

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