Home, by Toni Morrison

August 26, 2012

Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Toni Morrison’s 10th novel, Home, explicitly picks up on a theme that has been crucial to both her fiction and her nonfiction over several decades: the idea of making a home within a divided nation. In this novel, Frank Money, a Korean War veteran, travels from Seattle to the small town in Georgia where he was raised, a place that he has long loathed and associated only with violence, rejection and personal misery. He is on a mission, he believes, to save his little sister from unknown peril. Home is a short book that does not have the full character and plot development of most of Morrison’s work. It reads partly like an allegory, partly like an elegy for a rural southern way of life, partly like a meditation on redemption, but its individual pieces do not fully cohere and the characters seem like shadows moving across a stage; just as we feel we are about to get to know them, they disappear. On the other hand, Morrison’s writing is luminous, and anywhere you open it, the book has individual sentences that sing.