America's most celebrated novelist, Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison extends her profound take on our history with this twentieth-century tale of redemption: a taut and tortured story about one man's desperate search for himself in a world disfigured by war.Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: May 2012
From the book
They rose up like men. We saw them. Like men they stood.
We shouldn't have been anywhere near that place. Like most farmland outside Lotus, Georgia, this here one had plenty scary warning signs. The threats hung from wire mesh fences with wooden stakes every fifty or so feet. But when we saw a crawl space that some animal had dug--a coyote maybe, or a coon dog--we couldn't resist. Just kids we were. The grass was shoulder high for her and waist high for me so, looking out for snakes, we crawled through it on our bellies. The reward was worth the harm grass juice and clouds of gnats did to our eyes, because there right in front of us, about fifty yards off, they stood like men. Their raised hooves crashing and striking, their manes tossing back from wild white eyes. They bit each other like dogs but when they stood, reared up on their hind legs, their forelegs around the withers of the other, we held our breath in wonder. One was rust-colored, the other deep black, both sunny with sweat. The neighs were not as frightening as the silence following a kick of hind legs into the lifted lips of the opponent. Nearby, colts and mares, indifferent, nibbled grass or looked away. Then it stopped. The rust-colored one dropped his head and pawed the ground while the winner loped off in an arc, nudging the mares before him.
As we elbowed back through the grass looking for the dug-out place, avoiding the line of parked trucks beyond, we lost our way. Although it took forever to re-sight the fence, neither of us panicked until we heard voices, urgent but low. I grabbed her arm and put a finger to my lips. Never lifting our heads, just peeping through the grass, we saw them pull a body from a wheelbarrow and throw it into a hole already waiting. One foot stuck up over the edge and quivered, as though it could get out, as though with a little effort it could break through the dirt being shoveled in. We could not see the faces of the men doing the burying, only their trousers; but we saw the edge of a spade drive the jerking foot down to join the rest of itself. When she saw that black foot with its creamy pink and mud-streaked sole being whacked into the grave, her whole body began to shake. I hugged her shoulders tight and tried to pull her trembling into my own bones because, as a brother four years older, I thought I could handle it. The men were long gone and the moon was a cantaloupe by the time we felt safe enough to disturb even one blade of grass and move on our stomachs, searching for the scooped-out part under the fence. When we got home we expected to be whipped or at least scolded for staying out so late, but the grown-ups did not notice us. Some disturbance had their attention.
Since you're set on telling my story, whatever you think and whatever you write down, know this: I really forgot about the burial. I only remembered the horses. They were so beautiful. So brutal. And they stood like men.
"Perhaps Morrison's most lyrical performance so far." - Christopher Benfey, The New York Review of Books
"Morrison writes about psychological violence with an engineer's precision and a poet's expansiveness." - Tyrone Beason, The Seattle Times
"Morrison packs a powerful narrative punch. . . . [Her] depiction of the delightful ways black men engage in verbal banter to exchange personal and collective memories, and the poignant ways black women stand on their faith to deploy survival strategies only they could design, makes this a novel that begs rereading. She movingly describes people who survive and thrive, even when life deals them painful, mean blows. . . . [T]he beauty of Morrison's language and her profound truths about life and living compel one to run the page and keep reading. This 10th novel shows that the author is still questioning what we think we know when we think we know someone." - Marilyn Sanders Mobley, Ms. Magazine
"Home showcases a writer at the height of her powers in evoking a moment and its historical counter-currents. And it ranks among [Morrison's] most readable stories. It is also, like so many of her novels, a book certain to reward rereading: you can go Home again. And you should." - Jim Cullen, History News Network
"Gorgeous and intense, brutal yet heartwarming . . . like a slingshot that wields the impact of a missile. . . . Home is as accessible, tightly composed and visceral as anything Morrison has written. . . . [Her] shorter, more direct sentences have the capacity to leave a reader awestruck. . . . Devastating, deeply humane, ever-relevant." - Heller McAlpin, NPR
"The story of the warrior's struggle to return home is classic, but Nobel laureate Morrison imbues her tale with twists that make the journey more challenging and Frank Money's success less certain. . . . As usual, Morrison's writing is both lyrical and earthy and, although spare, dense with hints and meaning. This is a book that can be read in one long sitting, and probably will be . . . [A] satisfying, emotional . . . textured, painful and ultimately uplifting story." - Anne Neville, Buffalo News
"In this slim, scathing novel, Morrison brings us another quintessentially American character struggling through another shameful moment in our nation's history. . . . Home is as much prose poem as long-form fiction--a triumph for a beloved literary icon who proves that her talents remain in full flower. Four stars." - Meredith Maran, People
"Beautifully wrought . . . [Home] packs considerable power, because the Nobel Prize-winning author is still writing unflinchingly about the most painful human experiences. There's nothing small about the story she's told with such grace in these pages." - Steve Yarbrough, The Oregonian
"Short, swift, and luminescent . . . The music of Morrison's language, with its poetic oral qualities, its ability to be both past and present in one long line, requires a robust structure, a big space; a small auditorium simply does not suit it. Home, then, is . . . a remarkable thing: proof that Morrison is at once America's most deliberate and flexible writer. She has almost entirely retooled her style to tell a story that demands speed, brevity, the threat of a looming curtain call." - John Freeman, The Boston Globe
"Part of Morrison's longstanding greatness resides in her ability to animate specific stories about the black experience and simultaneously speak to all experience. It's precisely by committing unreservedly to the first that she's able to transcend the circumscribed audience it might imply. This work's accomplishment lies in its considerable capacity to make us feel that we are each not only resident but co-owner of, and collectively accountable for, this land we call home." - Leah Hager Cohen, The New York Times Book Review
"Powerful . . . Home, the latest novel by Toni Morrison, is almost eerie in its timeliness. Set in the 1950s, it does not evoke the martini and pinched waist nostalgia of Mad Men. Rather, it calls to mind the plight of today's veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. . . . A hallmark of Morrison's magic is the way that her imagination engages critically with several subjects simultaneously, but Home is particularly intriguing because it also seems to - Tayari Jones, San Francisco Chronicle