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by Toni Morrison

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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.
Frank Money is an angry, self-loathing veteran of the Korean War who, after traumatic

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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.
Frank Money is an angry, self-loathing veteran of the Korean War who, after traumatic experiences on the front lines, finds himself back in racist America with more than just physical scars. His home may seem alien to him, but he is shocked out of his crippling apathy by the need to rescue his medically abused younger sister and take her back to the small Georgia town they come from and that he’s hated all his life. As Frank revisits his memories from childhood and the war that have left him questioning his sense of self, he discovers a profound courage he had thought he could never possess again.
A deeply moving novel about an apparently defeated man finding his manhood—and his home.

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Editorial Reviews

Over more than 40 years, Toni Morrison has made her luminous art out of some of the darkest aspects of American history. Slavery and the human landscape that was its inheritance are the special territory of her fiction. Winner of armfuls of awards, and, in 1993, the Nobel Prize, Morrison is a writer who coaxes astonishing beauty out of pain and tragedy and an unparalleled master of memory, able to evoke the way that it deceives, doubles back, and blooms from experience. At this point, she's more than earned the right to rest on her laurels.

But if anything she has picked up the pace, with the publication of A Mercy, a tale of the 17th-century slave trade, in 2008, and now Home. This, her tenth novel, hews closer to the present than many of her previous books. Set just after the Korean War, Home is the story of a traumatized 24-year-old black veteran, Frank Money, and his younger sister, Cee. At first, it bears some striking resemblances to Sula, Morrison's 1973 novel set in a small Ohio town after World War I. Both books open with injured soldiers in a hospital, soon thrown on the mercy of others, surviving by keeping a bottle between the present and the blood- soaked past.

The parable — at a scant 150 pages, Home is austere, even for a writer who keeps it short — lays bare the hardships and vicious discrimination that are Morrison's stock in trade. As Frank travels across the country, from the Northwest to Georgia, to rescue Cee from a situation whose horrific outlines become clear only toward the end of the book, he moves through a hostile land relieved occasionally by an act of charity from another black man or woman who can scarcely afford to spare it. This is a book in which, if a train stops in a town, you know something bad is going to happen (and it does, twice).

Slavery may have been abolished nearly a century earlier, but much hasn't changed. Forced to turn to a minister for food, shoes, and a few dollars in his pocket, Frank is told that he's not the first veteran to come for help. "An integrated army is integrated misery," the man tells Frank in one of the history lessons Morrison dispenses in the first few pages. "You all go, fight, come back. They treat you like dogs. Change that. They treat dogs better." The man's wife soon chimes in, "Maybe you think up North is way different from down South. Don't believe it and don't count on it. Custom is just as real as law and can be just as dangerous."

We're being schooled, by a writer who's become a little impatient with poetic window dressings. There's history to explain. And there's horror to reveal. Morrison has never shied away from the darkness in men's souls, but in Home she's something of a depravity artist. In this brief tale, a soldier shoots the head off a little girl scavenging for food in a Korean military camp, a black woman's sexual organs are experimented upon by an "arrogant, evil" white doctor with books about eugenics on his shelves, and a father and son are forced, like dogs (that metaphor again), to fight each other to the death surrounded by white men placing eager bets on the outcome.

Morrison's fiction has spellbound us for four decades, and monstrosity has often been at the heart of her tales. Indeed, her best-known book, Beloved, the ghost story she based on a real historical figure and which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988, concerns an escaped slave who cuts the throat of her toddler daughter rather than see her recaptured and returned to bondage. But even in a book as grim as Beloved, goodness and love are there, too, in liberal measure, and so is ordinary life, the canvas upon which even horrific events must be painted.

In Home, evil is omnipresent — almost cartoonishly so — and it is the fabric of everyday experience that is squeezed into the margins. As a novelist, of course, Morrison is permitted all the liberties that a nonfiction writer is not — even if her stories are rooted in history. But there's something unsettling about seeing a writer whom we've long viewed as nothing short of a national steward produce a story that drips with weary disgust, offering on nearly every page fresh evidence of human cruelty. It is difficult to avoid the feeling that Home is meant as a rebuke — of the racists who have perverted our history, yes, but of her readers, too, and, indeed, of all humanity.

Lotus, Georgia, where Morrison's characters Frank and Cee Money grew up, is both bile and balm. In the end it claims them and redeems them in a familiar story arc that is comforting but, this time, not entirely convincing. Perhaps history has turned out to be a bitterer brew than Morrison can continue to swallow.

Sarah L. Courteau is the literary editor of the Wilson Quarterly.

Reviewer: Sarah L. Courteau

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Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

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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.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Haunting . . . [Morrison] maps the day-to-day lives of her characters with lyrical precision. . . . Home encapsulates all the themes that have fueled her fiction, from the early novels Sula and The Bluest Eye, through her dazzling masterwork, Beloved." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Gorgeous and intense, brutal yet heartwarming. . . . Accessible, tightly composed and visceral as anything Morrison has yet written. . . . [A] devastating, deeply humane—and ever-relevant—book." —Heller McAlpin, NPR

"Luminescent. . . . There is no novelist alive who has captured the beauty and democracy of the American vernacular so well." —The Boston Globe

"Powerful. . . . Jaw-dropping in its beauty and audacity. . . . Brims with affection and optimism." —San Francisco Chronicle

“This scarily quiet tale packs all the thundering themes Morrison has explored before. She’s never been more concise, though, and that restraint demonstrates the full range of her power. . . . A daringly hopeful story about the possibility of healing — or at least surviving in a shadow of peace.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“A fertile narrative imbued with and embellished by Morrison’s visionary scope and poetic majesty.” —Elle
“A bona fide literary event . . . an emotional powerhouse. . . . Told in the stark, economical tone of a short story, with all the philosophical heft of a novel.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A short, swift, and luminescent book. . . . A remarkable thing: proof that Toni 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 treat of a looming curtain call. . . . There is no novelist alive who has captured the beauty and democracy of the American vernacular so well.” —The Boston Globe
“Profound . . . Morrison's portrayal of Frank is vivid and intimate, her portraits of the women in his life equally masterful. Its brevity, stark prose, and small cast of characters notwithstanding, this story of a man struggling to reclaim his roots and his manhood is enormously powerful." —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Perhaps Morrison’s most lyrical performance to date. . . . Home has a sparer, faster pace than earlier Morrison novels like Beloved or Jazz, as though a drumbeat is steadily intensifying in the background and the storyteller has to keep up.” —The New York Review of Books
“In a mere 145 pages, Morrison has created a richly textured, deeply felt novel. “Home” has a sense of the real with a touch of magic. After 10 novels and a Nobel prize, Toni Morrison certainly isn’t resting on her laurels.” —Louisville Courier-Journal
“Her themes—identity, community, the resoluteness of both good and evil—are epic, and her language uniquely her own. . . . Taut and muscular, Home wastes not a word. . . . In sentences balanced like proverbs, the Nobel Prize winner conjures up the community of country women Frank asks to help save Cee.” —The Plain Dealer
“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.” —People
“A short, urgent novel, polished to the essential themes that the Nobel Prize-winning author has explored for decades.” —The Columbus Dispatch
“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.” —The Oregonian

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Home 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 78 reviews.
mshoni More than 1 year ago
Toni Morrison's latest novel (or novella) is a compact tale tackling the broad subject of "home". Frank Money is a veteran returns to the US after serving in the Korean War. Like most Black soldiers of that time, he's returning to a country that could care less about his service and the trauma that he's experienced. Frank works hard at trying to achieve some level of normalcy and overcome the memories that he can't escape. He receives news that his younger sister, Cee, is in trouble and must pull himself together enough to come to her aid. As usual, Morrison's writing is beautiful and descriptive, making even the smallest detail appear paramount to the story. It's hard to believe that a book that is only about 160 pages long could contain a wealth of storytelling. The plight of Black people in the 1950's is fully explored here: returning soldiers, travelling the country under Jim Crow laws, medical research exploitation, and much more. Morrison's incredible talent assures that no matter how many physical pages there are, her stories are always fully told.
lindianajones More than 1 year ago
As usual, Toni Morrison does not disappoint in this her latest novel. I was pulled in immediately and unable to put the book down. So engrossed I was that I actually finished it in one sitting. It is not a long novel but it backs a great deal in its pages. Absolutely loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had finished reading the latest novella by Toni Morrison titled "Home". Short reading but she tells a good story. An interesting and engaging plot that provides an exciting description of the main characters. Toni Morrison's stories are getting shorter but quality of writing still exists in her fiction. The plot engaged me from the start. I had finished reading this novella in three sessions. It goes on for 105 pages or so, not a very long story. Succinct and colorful, descriptive and enticing, draws you in from the very beginning. A well spent time reading this book. The twists and turns surprise and enchant. What happens at the end? I wanted the story to go on, but the writer decided to end the story. There is nothing we can do but carry on the plot in our own minds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read, compelling narrative, beautiful language.
Nlen110 More than 1 year ago
I was excited to read this book because I had heard of Toni Morrison but had never read any of her books. While the story was good, I found it at times hard to follow. The character's names changed, as well as the setting, without me being aware. It wasn't until I read the summary at the end that I understood that. Maybe upon reading again, I would enjoy it more, but I was disappointed.
dayzd89 More than 1 year ago
Toni Morrison is a literary genius. "I can be miserable if I want to. You don't need to try and make it go away. It shouldn't go away. It's just as sad as it ought to be and I'm not going to hide from what's true just because it hurts." (from page 131) Why is it so hard to write about books that are so amazing? I always seem to have this issue with my favorite books. This is definitely the case with Toni Morrison's Home. Even though the novel is shy of 200 pages, the story inside it is so artfully crafted and brilliantly executed. The varying points of view and switch between first person and third person gives the reader different versions of the 'truth'. I've learned about eugenics in my women's studies classes. It's a horrible dark secret in American society that often gets overlooked or ignored. In a way, I am glad that Morrison decided to talk about this piece of history in her latest novel. I am disgusted that it happened, don't get me wrong, but I strongly believe in learning about any sort of discrimination. That's another reason why I admire Morrison so much. She links together all of the oppressions and shows how racism exists right along with sexism and classism. The voices of minorities have always been silenced, and there is great power in learning from the past. The other choice is to ignore it, but what does that do to a person? Frank is a perfect example of this. He may not be a perfect person, a perfect brother or boyfriend, but he is still human. He tries to ignore the past and it just haunts him and pulls him into a downward spiral. His post-traumatic stress is clear through his hallucinations and 'abnormal' reactions. When he finally says the truth, though, he is freed from that poisonous denial. I can't recommend this novel highly enough. If you love happy, care-free novels, then this isn't for you. You might say it's too depressing, too dark, too somber. But to her fans (like me) it is empowering and hopeful. The message here is really strong and inspiring. Nobody should make you feel like you're worth nothing. You might get discriminated against because of the color of your skin, or your gender, or the lack of money in your pockets, but those oppressors aren't better than you. No one is better than you. It takes a lot of courage to see that and accept it, but it's true.
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Ms Morrison never fails! Gotta love it!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you're like me and have already read you fair share of Toni Morrison's work, you won't be disappointed with "Home." It is yet another wonderful book that is complex and rich in it's brevity. Morrison has always written as if she wrote 400+ pages and then edits down to 100 making the reader really have to immerse themselves into the text to really see what Morrison is trying to say.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly over-rated in my humble opinion. Dis-jointed and fairy-tale like ending. Disappointed.
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Makes you realize that theres no place like home.
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TexasK More than 1 year ago
Toni Morrison hits you over the head with 1960's segregation, in this country, after the Korean War. She slowly pushes it on you then starts pounding the point home every chance she gets. This story would have been much better if she had made the point gently rather than in your face.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorites by Morrison it is short but you understand each character and what they have gone through. You feel for them and want them to learn and deal with life on their own terms.
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