Toni Morrison died in 2019, leaving behind fifty years of writing. The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved . . . more than a dozen books in all.
To mark her passing, The New York Times made a short video (see it here) including the author speaking about her work. I wish she were here today, in this moment, because I would love to hear what she would make of it all.
But as I think about it, she’s already told us what she makes of it all. Her books remain to take us deep into the experience of being Black.
Even more extraordinary, she left us the gift of her own reading of her works.
At a time when I really want to listen, this week I started listening to Toni Morrison reading her first novel, published in 1970, The Bluest Eye. She’s right here in the room with me, telling the story of Pecola Breedlove, a Black girl in Ohio who wants more than anything to have blue eyes.
Morrison is a superb reader.
In the Times video, Morrison says, “I don’t think I could have happily stayed here with the calamity that has occurred so often in the world if I did not have a way of thinking about it—past, present, future—which is what writing is for me. It’s control. Nobody tells me what to do. I am in control. It is my world. It’s sometimes wild, the process by which I arrive at something, but nevertheless it’s mine, it’s free, and it’s a way of thinking. It’s pure knowledge.”
You’ll find Toni Morrison’s audiobooks at Audible.com, here.