Baker & Taylor Reviews, essays, and interviews offer critical interpretations of the works of Toni Morrison
Blackwell North Amer Toni Morrison has been described by the New York Times as "the closest thing the country has to a national writer." Her third novel, Song of Solomon, earned her the National Book Critics Circle and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters awards, and was the first novel written by an African-American writer to be selected for the Book-of-the-Month club since Richard Wright's Native Son. With six published novels, two anthologies, a volume of literary criticism, plays, and other published works behind her, she is one of the most celebrated American writers of her time. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., writes in the preface of Toni Morrison: Critical Perspectives Past and Present, coedited with K. A. Appiah, that "Morrison's greatest capacities as a writer are her ability to create a densely lyrical narrative texture that is instantly recognizable as her own, and to make of the particularity of the African-American 'experience' the basis for a representation of humanity tout court." These critical perspectives are reviews from the popular press, essays - by such noted scholars and authors as Houston A. Baker, Jr., author of Workings of the Spirits, and Roberta Rubenstein, author of Boundaries of the Self - and interviews with Morrison that present her own perspective. This unique and revealing collection, which also includes a chronology of her life and career, offers insight and information useful to academic and lay readers alike. The critical essays explain how Morrison's work is influenced by writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, William Faulkner, and James Baldwin; by Biblical scripture; and by Black music and speech rituals. They examine why Morrison's writing is "at once difficult and popular," says Gates. When Sara Blackburn reviewed Morrison's first novel, The Bluest Eye, for the New York Times, she wrote that the novelist "reaped the benefits of a growing middle-class women's movement that was just beginning to acknowledge the reality of its black and poor sisters. As a result, her novel probably attracted more attention than it otherwise might have in the publishing industry and reviewers." The factors of her success are debatable, but most agree that her place in the pantheon of the world's greatest literary figures is guaranteed.