cover image Toni Morrison and the Natural World: An Ecology of Color

Toni Morrison and the Natural World: An Ecology of Color

Anissa Janine Wardi. Univ. of Mississippi, $25 trade paper (198p) ISBN 978-1-4968-3417-1

English and African American literature professor Wardi (Water and African American Memory) considers the work of Toni Morrison and its association with nature in this scholarly work of criticism. Four chapters are arranged thematically by color: “Brown” parses Morrison’s novels Paradise and The Bluest Eye using the color “of soil, compost, and rot.” Green, “the preeminent color of ecological thought, environmental discourse, and conservation movements,” brings together Beloved, Home, and Song of Solomon, while “Orange” looks at how Morrison “explores our human relationship to fire and the ecological benefits of fire” in God Help the Child and Sula. Blue is associated with “water’s indelible relationships to life-forms on our planet” in Ward’s reading of Tar Baby and Love, and in her concluding chapter, she studies A Mercy and Jazz to find that Morrison reveals “an ecosystem where people and nature encounter each other, where the origin story of the nation meets American environmentalism.” While Ward’s take is philosophical, academic, and highly specialized, her theoretical musings are mixed with grounding synopses of the texts. Though not for the lay reader, this thought-provoking analysis will appeal to students and scholars of Morrison’s work. (July)