0270 | Sula – Toni Morrison


Context: Read this while waiting for the Newcastle CLC church to start at the Life Centre.

Another offering from Morrison to compare with Beloved and Jazz. To be honest, she’s not shaping up to be my favourite writer at all. On the whole, I was disappointed in this. However, I did find the characters in this one stood out a little more to me from the haze of Morrison’s usual overweighty metaphors.

I liked the fact that there was a contrast between two characters and between two areas of town. I like tensions like that… provided the writer makes the most of them. I found I could actually follow a certain storyline in this novel too. I found that nigh on impossible in Jazz and Beloved was hard going. So on the readability front it was better.

But, overall, after three books, I can’t understand for the life of me what Morrison is trying to communicate in these novels. Is there any point to her writing? Would the world be any worse off without it? Patently so. You don’t win a Nobel Prize for nothing… or maybe you do.

As I’m committed to the 1001 list, I’ll be reading more of her. But I can’t say I’m looking forward to it though.


the only way to avoid the Hand of God is to get in it


In that place, where they tore the nightshade and blackberry patches from their roots to make room for the Medallion City Golf Course, there was once a neighborhood.


It was a fine cry – loud and long – but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.


Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement
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  1. I think what you may be missing here is the reason behind her often disjointed storylines and heavy metaphors: she’s often making a statement on the nature of narrative in the African-American experience. Beloved is non-linear and at times a little convoluted: a reflection of the rupture in narrative that is caused by Sethe’s (and all other characters’) dehumanization at the hands of slavery. They don’t ‘own’ the narrative of Sweet Home, where they were held in bondage; and they struggle to own the narrative in Cincinnatti, where things are little better.

    Morrison won the Nobel, I would imagine, because in works like Jazz and Beloved she tries to do something most writers avoid: question whether writing, narrative, history, etc. can have any importance in the face of such – well, evil.

    1. Hi CP… thanks so much for trying to help me with Morrison. I guess I’m not too familiar with the “nature of narrative” in that context. Your last paragraph makes me wonder whether you’ve read Fateless by Imre Kertesz. He definitely questions narrative in the face of the evil of the Holocaust and that really made me think.

      Thanks for the comment 😉

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