“They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time.” So begins Toni Morrison’s Paradise, which opens with a horrifying scene of mass violence and chronicles its genesis in an all-black small town in rural Oklahoma. Founded by the descendants of freed slaves and survivors in exodus from a hostile world, the patriarchal community of Ruby is built on righteousness, rigidly enforced moral law, and fear. But seventeen miles away, another group of exiles has gathered in a promised land of their own. And it is upon these women in flight from death and despair that nine male citizens of Ruby will lay their pain, their terror, and their murderous rage.
In prose that soars with the rhythms, grandeur, and tragic arc of an epic poem, Toni Morrison challenges our most fiercely held beliefs as she weaves folklore and history, memory and myth into an unforgettable meditation on race, religion, gender, and a far-off past that is ever present.
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The story goes like this. My grandfather attended school for one day in order to tell the teacher he wouldn’t be back because he had to work. His older sister, he said, would teach him to read. It was one of those details that surface in family...
“Stunning. . . . Morrison at her novelistic best.” —The New Yorker
“Morrison dazzles.” —The Nation
“A fascinating story, wonderfully detailed. . . . The town is the stage for a profound and provocative debate.” —Los Angeles Times
“Morrison [is] a master storyteller. . . . She is at the height of her imaginative powers.” —New York Daily News
“Everything is resonant here: the most casual gestures are informed by the facts and myths of genders and race, by our notions of civilization and lawlessness, body and spirit, Christianity and witchcraft. Morrison’s lyrical prose displays great confidence in her readers’ intelligence, demands their unflagging attention, and rewards them generously—with a memorable work of epic range and monumental ambition.” —People
“Toni Morrison is an extraordinarily good writer. Two pages into anything she writes one feels the power of her language and the emotional authority behind that language.” —The Village Voice
“Morrison is at the top of her form. . . . Impressive, eloquent, and powerfully imagined.” —The Baltimore Sun
“Morrison is a terrific storyteller. . . . Her writing evokes the joyful richness of life.” —Newsday
“A breathtaking, risk-taking major work that will have readers feverishly, and fearfully turning the pages.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[A] triumph. . . . The individual stories of both the women and the townspeople reveal Morrison at her best.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)