Toni Morrison was an American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher, and professor emeritus at Princeton University. She was born on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, and passed away on August 5, 2019. Morrison was acclaimed for her richly detailed and epic storytelling and her exploration of African-American culture and experience. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 for her novel 'Beloved'. Her work is celebrated for its depth, poetic language, and powerful themes of race, identity, and family.
This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.
This novel tells the story of a former African-American slave woman who, after escaping to Ohio, is haunted by the ghost of her deceased daughter. The protagonist is forced to confront her repressed memories and the horrific realities of her past, including the desperate act she committed to protect her children from a life of slavery. The narrative is a poignant exploration of the physical, emotional, and psychological scars inflicted by the institution of slavery, and the struggle for identity and self-acceptance in its aftermath.
The novel explores the life of an African-American man, Macon "Milkman" Dead III, from birth to adulthood. Set against the backdrop of racial tension in the mid-20th century United States, it delves into his journey of self-discovery and understanding his heritage. As Macon embarks on a literal and figurative journey south to reconnect with his roots, he encounters various characters that help him understand his family history and the power of community. The narrative is deeply rooted in African-American folklore and mythology, offering a profound commentary on identity, personal freedom, and the destructive power of racism.
The novel is a poignant tale of an African American girl named Pecola Breedlove who grows up during the years following the Great Depression. Living in a society that values beauty in terms of light skin and blue eyes, Pecola develops an inferiority complex and wishes for blue eyes, believing that it would make her beautiful and loved. The story explores themes of racial self-loathing, the standards of beauty, and the dynamics of power and oppression.
The novel is a poignant tale of two African American girls, Nel and Sula, growing up in the racially segregated town of Medallion, Ohio. The narrative explores their friendship, personal struggles, and the societal expectations imposed on them. Sula, the more rebellious of the two, leaves town to live a life of freedom and independence, while Nel chooses to conform to societal norms, marrying and raising a family. When Sula returns, their friendship is tested due to a betrayal, and the town labels Sula as evil. The book delves into themes of friendship, betrayal, individuality, and the societal roles of women.
Set in the Harlem of the 1920s, this novel follows the lives of a middle-aged couple, Joe and Violet, and their complicated relationship with a young woman named Dorcas. After Joe starts an affair with Dorcas and later kills her out of jealousy, Violet attempts to disfigure Dorcas's corpse at her funeral out of anger and resentment. The narrative explores themes of love, passion, betrayal, and the transformative power of music, particularly jazz, in a rapidly changing society.
6. A Mercy
"A Mercy" by Toni Morrison is a historical fiction novel set in the late 17th century in America. The story follows a young slave girl named Florens who is sold by her mother to a Dutch trader in exchange for a debt. Florens is then taken to a plantation in Virginia where she becomes part of a diverse group of women, including a Native American, a white indentured servant, and the plantation owner's wife. The novel explores themes of race, gender, and power dynamics as the women navigate their relationships with each other and the harsh realities of life in colonial America.
The novel explores the complex dynamics within an all-Black town in rural Oklahoma, founded as a sanctuary from racism and oppression. When a nearby convent, inhabited by a group of women who have sought refuge from their troubled pasts, becomes the focus of the town's unease, tensions escalate. The narrative delves into the histories of the town's families and the women of the convent, revealing themes of identity, community, and the often destructive nature of idealism. The book culminates in a violent confrontation, raising profound questions about love, morality, and the meaning of paradise.
The story is a provocative exploration of the complex friendship between two girls, Twyla and Roberta, who meet in a shelter during their childhood and encounter each other at various points throughout their lives. Their intermittent interactions over the years reveal the deep-seated racial tensions and societal prejudices that shape their realities. The narrative deliberately obscures the girls' racial identities, challenging the reader to confront their own assumptions and biases about race and privilege. As the two women's lives intertwine, their shared history and the changing social landscape of America force them to grapple with their personal and collective memories, ultimately questioning the very nature of their recollections and the impact of race on their experiences.