Home (Morrison) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
This haunting, slender novel is a kind of tiny Rosetta Stone to Toni Morrison's entire oeuvre…encapsulat[ing] all the themes that have fueled her fiction…In these pages Ms. Morrison eschews the fierce Faulknerian prose and García Marquez-like flights of surrealism that animated some of her earlier novels, adopting a new, pared-down style that enables her to map the day-to-day lives of her characters with lyrical precision.... Ms. Morrison has found a new, angular voice and straight-ahead storytelling style that showcase her knowledge of her characters, and the ways in which violence and passion and regret are braided through their lives, the ways in which love and duty can redeem a blighted past.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times


Toni Morrison doesn’t have to prove anything anymore, and there’s artistic freedom in that calm. Her new novel, Home, is a surprisingly unpretentious story from America’s only living Nobel laureate in literature.... This scarily quiet tale packs all the thundering themes Morrison has explored before. She’s never been more concise, though, and that restraint demonstrates the full range of her power.... Home is unusual, not only in that it features a male protagonist but that it’s so fiercely focused on the problem of manhood.... Are acts of violence essentially masculine, or are they an abdication of manliness? Is it possible, the novel finally asks, to consider the manhood implicit in sacrifice, in laying down one’s life? What [Frank] Money eventually does to help his sister and to quiet his demons is just as surprising and quietly profound as everything else in this novel. Despite all the old horrors that Morrison faces in these pages with weary recognition, Home is a daringly hopeful story about the possibility of healing—or at least surviving in a shadow of peace.
Ron Charles - Washington Post


Nobel laureate Toni Morrison is known for novels in which female protagonists struggle to wrest control of their lives from an establishment bent on their destruction. Home, by contrast, tells the story of Korean War vet Frank Money, who returns from the battlefield plagued by visions of his friends’ deaths and a disturbing episode that cuts at the roots of his sexual and moral identity. . . . Salvation awaits, however, in his tiny Georgia hometown.
Tim McDonnell - Mother Jones


Profound.... Morrison’s portrayal of Frank is vivid and intimate, her portraits of the women in his life equally masterful. Its brevity, stark prose, and small cast of characters notwithstanding, this story of a man struggling to reclaim his roots and his manhood is enormously powerful.
Stephan Lee - O Magazine


Home’s slim spine belies a fertile narrative imbued with and embellished by Morrison’s visionary scope and poetic majesty. These traits expand on her long exploration of the suffering and striving born of slavery and segregation that are unique to the history of blacks in America. Conjoined in all her stories and richly illumined are the culture, traditions, talents, and triumphs of African-Americans as well.
Lisa Shea - Elle


In Pulitzer and Nobel Prize–winner Morrison’s immaculate new novel (after A Mercy), Frank Money returns from the horrors of the Korean War to an America that’s just as poor and just as racist as the country he fled. Frank’s only remaining connection to home is his troubled younger sister, Cee, “the first person ever took responsibility for,” but he doesn’t know where she is. In the opening pages of the book, he receives a letter from a friend of Cee’s stating, “Come fast. She be dead if you tarry.” Thus begins his quest to save his sister—and to find peace in a town he loathed as a child: Lotus, Ga., the “worst place in the world, worse than any battlefield.” Told in alternating third- and first-person narration, with Frank advising and, from time to time, correcting the person writing down his life story, the novel’s opening scene describes horses mating, “heir raised hooves crashing and striking, their manes tossing back from wild white eyes,” as one field over, the bodies of African-American men who were forced to fight to the death are buried: “...whatever you think and whatever you write down, know this: I really forgot about the burial. I only remembered the horses. They were so beautiful. So brutal.” Beautiful, brutal, as is Morrison’s perfect prose.
Publishers Weekly


Frank Money was damaged emotionally as well as physically while fighting in Korea, then returns home to an America as racist as ever. What saves him from utter despair is the need to rescue his equally damaged sister and bring her back to their small Georgia town, a place he has always despised. But thinking over the past both near (the war) and far (his childhood) allows him to rediscover his sense of purpose. At 160 pages, this is not a big brass band of a novel but a chamber work, effectively telescoping Morrison's passion and lush language.
Library Journal


(Starrred review) With the economical presentation of a short story, the rhythms and cadences of a poem, and the total embrace and resonance of a novel, Morrison, one of our national literary treasures, continues to marshal her considerable talents to draw a deeply moving narrative and draw in a wide range of appreciative readers...bound to be a big hit. —Brad Hooper
Booklist


A deceptively rich and cumulatively powerful novel.... A black soldier returns from the Korean War, where he faces a rocky re-entry, succumbing to alcoholism and suffering from what would subsequently be termed PTSD. Yet perhaps, as someone tells him, his major problem is the culture to which he returns: "An integrated army is integrated misery. You all go fight, come back, they treat you like dogs. Change that. They treat dogs better." Ultimately, the latest from the Nobel Prize–winning novelist has something more subtle and shattering to offer than such social polemics.... A novel that illuminates truths that its characters may not be capable of articulating.
Kirkus Reviews




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