In 1993, Toni Morrison became the first African American to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. A great American novelist, Morrison has garnered numerous awards for her fiction, including a National Book Award nomination in 1975 for her second novel, Sula, the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1977 for her fourth novel, Song of Solomon, and the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved. Morrison is responsible for helping bring African American literature and culture into the consciousness of the mainstream reader, not only through her fiction but also through an influential, best-selling volume of literary theory.
A modernist writer who has been compared to William Faulkner and James Joyce, Morrison crafts novels that are complex and absorbing. They are also difficult to categorize. Multiple narrators in Beloved give the novel a veneer of realism. They reveal Sethe’s story in fragments, a technique that closely emulates reality in the way in which people ordinarily learn about each other. However, the novel includes two ghosts as main characters, the infant Beloved and the adult Beloved. Some readers consider it a bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel, because at its close Sethe, with the help of Paul D, finally begins to discover a sense of self-worth. Still others consider it a historical novel because it is based on a historical incident, detailed in Middleton Harris’s The Black Book, which Morrison...
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