Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beloved - Winner, 1988

By: Toni Morrison
Alfred A. Knopf, 1987

Toni Morrison is a name that is often thrown around in literary circles, and, as I had never read anything of hers prior to this, I looked forward to reading (or listening to, which I ended up doing) Beloved to see what the talk was about. The story of Beloved focuses mainly on a runaway slave, Sethe, and her daughter, Denver, as they try to make a life for themselves in Ohio in the years following the Civil War. Though Denver was not born until after her mother's escape, they both spend their lives dealing with the physical and psychological effects of slavery.

Many images brought forth in Morrison's novel are painful to read about, but it is important that we understand, to the extent possible, the horrors and human toll of slavery. Morrison's writing is poetic and full of imagery that is beautiful but hard to understand at times. Because I was listening, there were times that I found myself completely lost. I thought I had missed something and went to Spark Notes online to make sure I knew what was going on. Towards the end of the book, Morrison begins shifting more and more between different perspectives. I think that if I had been reading the book this would have been clearer. What I did love about listening to Beloved is that it was read by Toni Morrison herself. I believe that there are emotions that only an author can put into the reading of his or her own text, and this recording was no exception. I would definitely recommend this book for more mature readers. There are books that have been written throughout history that might not be the most enjoyable to read but are vitally important. Beloved is not my favorite book, but I do believe that, for the sake of understanding our past, it is important.

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