Support us with Kachingle!
May 3, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Toni Morrison was born on February 18, 1931. Now 81, she has lived through World War II, the Vietnam and Korean wars, 14 presidents, the formation of The Beatles and the entire American Civil Rights Movement. The inspiration for novels is endless.
Her soon-to-be released 10th book, Home, is a historical fiction work that focuses on Frank Money, a soldier returning from the Korean War. Sadly, though he fought in the name of his home country as part of a desegregated army, Money finds people in the states to be less accepting of his race. He must confront deep-seated racism while coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The book is set in Lotus, Ga. Money is quickly pulled from his angry self-pity by the need to rescue his sister who was mutilated by a medical experiment. He takes her back to Lotus, where he confronts memories and issues from his childhood and unearthed a fresh courage he thought he had lost.
All of Morrison’s novels center on black characters and unresolved issues from the past. Although a majority of them have black female heroines, she does not consider them feminist works. She has said several times that she prefers to present time periods and settings as she remembered them rather than through popular idealizations. For example, most of her novels take place in small towns with no redeemable qualities that are ultimately saved by love. Home is no exception.
Morrison grew up in Lorain, Ohio, as the second of four kids. Although she remembers her parents experiencing racial issues, she said she was unaware of racial division until her teens. She grew up in an integrated neighborhood and though she was the only black child in her class, she was also the only one who could read in first grade.
She says in an interview with The Guardian that she wanted to paint a more accurate picture of the ’50s. It wasn’t the perfect world of Pleasantville that people imagine now, but rather a world torn apart by a war people didn’t even consider to be a war at the time: a war that killed more than 50,000 men and women. Reviewers have said this novel continues like the others to reveal Morrison’s distinctive viewpoint on the past. Another of her inspirations has become a reality.