‘Beloved,’ ‘The Bluest Eye,’ ‘Sula’: The Essential Toni Morrison Reader

Toni Morrison, the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, was the author of 11 novels as well as children’s books and essay collections. Her books were both critical and commercial successes, and we’ve collected reviews of some of her most significant books, including those by Margaret Atwood, John Irving and more.

“Miss Morrison exposes the negative of the Dick-and-Jane-and-Mother-and-Father-and-Dog-and-Cat photograph that appears in our reading primers, and she does it with a prose so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry … But ‘The Bluest Eye’ is also history, sociology, folklore, nightmare and music … Ms. Morrison’s angry sadness overwhelms.” — John Leonard

An “artful evocation of the black community of Medallion, Ohio … One comes closest glimpsing the heart of ‘Sula’ in the strange career of the title character — Sula herself, who is stamped above one eyebrow with a rose‐shaped birthmark that may be either the mark of Satan or a third eye with which to look into the souls of her people.” — Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

“What’s so powerful, and subtle, about Ms. Morrison’s presentation of the tension between blacks and whites is that she conveys it almost entirely through the suspicions and prejudices of her black characters … Like any ambitious writer, she’s unafraid to employ these stereotypes — she embraces the representative quality of her characters without embarrassment, then proceeds to make them individuals too.” — John Irving

“Indeed, Ms. Morrison’s versatility and technical and emotional range appear to know no bounds. If there were any doubts about her stature as a pre-eminent American novelist, of her own or any other generation, ‘Beloved’ will put them to rest. In three words or less, it’s a hair-raiser.” — Margaret Atwood

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