Sunday, 3 April 2011

In 1993 Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her citation reads: Toni Morrison, "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality." The book 'Beloved' is dedicated to 'Sixty Million and more', beautifully written on the subject of slavery. It is a harrowing tale, not an easy read at all, yet it was compelling. What kind of mother would cut her child's head off with a hacksaw? Toni Morrison based the novel on a newspaper clipping of a true story of Margaret Garner, a young mother who having escaped slavery, was arrested for killing one of her children (and trying to kill the others) rather than let them be returned to the owner's plantation.This powerful fact is fictionalised in breathtaking prose. The last pages summed it up for me. The words that stood out for me were: 'Everyone knew what she was called, but nobody anywhere knew her name...They forgot her like a bad dream...Like an unpleasant dream during a troubling sleep. This is not a story to pass on.'
How easily mankind forgets history and repeats the same mistakes again and again? Slavery forgotten or treated like an unpleasant dream. The book had much more than that of course but what a powerful message? If you've not read it I urge you to find time for it.

I have to move on to something that is a lighter read. My library had Manu Joseph's 'Serious Men' and as it has been referred to as a 'bitter comedy' I've chosen that for my next read.

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