Toni Morrison

Stirring Images from the First Ever Illustrated Version of Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’

Toni Morrison’s Beloved is widely considered the greatest of all American novels published in last quarter of the 20th century, but, until now, it has never been released as an illustrated edition — this despite the effortless magic with which Morrison invokes (or provokes) her images of postbellum black life. Thankfully, The Folio Society has now released a moving, brilliantly illustrated version of Beloved, complete with an introduction by Russell Banks. Morrison chose Banks to write about the novel, and she also selected the novel’s gifted illustrator, Joe Morse, whose work you can see below. Flavorwire talked with Mr. Morse about his approach illustrating Morrison’s masterpiece. … Read More

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Toni Morrison Is Not Your Grandmother: On the Explosive, Alienating ‘God Help the Child’

It is a strange fact of Toni Morrison’s career that no matter how viscerally — in at times the clearest and most instinctive sentences in narrative prose — she lays bare the sexual brutality and racial hatred that undergirds American life, she will still be expected to play the part of grandmotherly sage. In her recent, necessary, even recuperative piece “The Radical Vision of Toni Morrison,” Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah momentarily chides herself for wanting as much from the only living American Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. “I had spent hours with Morrison, accosting her with questions, thinking about her, observing her,” Kaadzi wrote. “Suddenly I felt greedy and excused myself in a hurry. How silly of me to think that she should provide me with an answer to the old woman’s riddle, to not see all the ways Morrison has given of herself.” It’s true: Toni Morrison is not here to comfort… Read More

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50 Great Genre-Bending Books Everyone Should Read

Sometimes, it seems as though the arguments about genre — be it poetry vs. fiction, fiction vs. nonfiction, literary fiction vs. SF vs. fantasy vs. mystery vs. vs. vs. — will never end. So why not just take yourself off the board entirely? After all, marketing professionals aside, does anyone really care what genre they’re reading if the book is good? After the jump, 50 genre-bending novels guaranteed to enthrall you, whether you’re a literary fiction snob or a die-hard fantasy nerd. Enjoy without judgements! … Read More

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20 Great Writers on Motivating Yourself To Write, No Matter What

As April ushers in sunshine and flowers, and the spring holidays have adherents talking about new beginnings, the writing world is overflowing with people setting goals. Some are participating in the 100 days project, which begins today and requires doing something creative each day for 100 days straight. Others are embarking on Camp NaNoWriMo, a “practice run” month of novel-writing, and the more verse-inclined are scribbling a poem a day for National Poetry Month (either through the auspices of NaPoWriMo or not).

And even if we’re doing none of those things, but simply contemplating Ken Cosgrove’s choice to abandon his writing to get revenge on his advertising colleagues on the premiere of Mad Men, today is a good day to rededicate oneself to the craft. So here’s a collection of words from writers beyond the usual suspects — writers of color, feminists, genre writers, and even a Renaissance poet — talking about the hard work of building habits, agonizing over the writing process, and wrestling with the muse. If they don’t have you waking up at dawn tomorrow with a pen and a notebook, nothing will. … Read More

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10 Must-Read Books for April

There is no question that April brings with it many of the year’s most impressive works of fiction and nonfiction. (And don’t worry about poetry; we’ll handle it separately.) From Renata Adler to Masha Gessen, through established masters of fiction like Toni Morrison and Steven Millhauser, to undeniable new talents like Amelia Gray and Viet Thanh Nguyen, this month sprints the gamut before the industry takes a short and probably literal… Read More

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Joyce Carol Oates’ Joyless Critique of Literary Critics’ Joylessness

Yesterday, Joyce Carol Oates took to Twitter to admonish, in a familiar way, the supposedly gloom-stricken, anhedonic minds of literary critics. The idea, as usual, is that critics are parsimonious, even vindictive melancholics who are constitutionally incapable of setting aside Occam’s Razor in order to enjoy the pleasures of reading. Here is a sample: … Read More

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10 Withering and Wise Toni Morrison Quotes for Her Birthday

Toni Morrison is both a gorgeous writer and an extremely gifted thinker. On her birthday, February 18th, we celebrate her words on race, gender, the world’s troubles, and the duty and process of those who write their way out of the mess. These quotes will have to suffice until we can read her new novel, God Help the Child, later this year. … Read More

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Girl Canon: 50 Essential Books About the Female Experience

Everyone knows that, statistically at least, girls read more than boys. But the classic, canonical growing-up books, at least in American culture, tend to represent the male experience — I’m thinking On the Road, The Catcher in the Rye, everything ever written by Bret Easton Ellis or Michael Chabon — and while these are great books, suitable for boys or girls, the question remains: where are the books for girls to grow up on? Well, they’re definitely out there, if perhaps assigned less often in schools to readers of both genders. And so I propose a Girl Canon, populated by books not necessarily for girls but which investigate, address, or represent the female experience in some essential… Read More

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