cover image The Toni Morrison Book Club

The Toni Morrison Book Club

Juda Bennett, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, Cassandra Jackson, and Piper Kendrix Williams. Univ. of Wisconsin, $17.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-299-32494-0

In this insightful group memoir, a reading group of four English professors from the College of New Jersey tackles four Toni Morrison novels: Beloved, The Bluest Eye, A Mercy, and Song of Solomon. Each contributing a pair of essays, they consider African-American history, personal experiences, and Morrison’s lessons for the present moment. Jackson interprets The Bluest Eye as a critique of the “strong black woman” cultural trope, while Brown-Glaude finds in Song of Solomon “models of resistance from which we can learn... today.” Bennett muses on his outsider position as the volume’s one white contributor through Beloved’s “brief representation of a comic white girl,” and Williams reflects on A Mercy’s exploration of the costs of “being seen” through her own memory of “being the only black kid in a sea of” white high school students. She then fittingly concludes the collection with a piece that merges the personal, literary, historical, and contemporary, as she visits the National Museum of African American History and Culture and feels, while viewing Harriet Tubman’s shawl, the “epiphanal blackness” also present in Morrison’s work. For book lovers and history buffs, as well as the politically engaged, this collection, though small in size, will yield vast intellectual riches. (Feb.)