8. A Mercy

Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors – The Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved, Paradise, Song of Solomon, etc.  I discovered her and her incredible novels in my second year of university, as an English lit major and have never stopped reading her since.  I always look forward to anything new she writes.  She is a writer, editor, and professor and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for the novel Beloved – a must read and for me a must reread.  However, she really became famous when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in literature in 1993, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality”. Having read most of her books, Love and A Mercy were the last two left  on my list.  It’s almost done! I finally got around to reading A Mercy.  It was interesting to read about slavery in this way.  Morrison attempted to write about slavery at its beginnings before it became organized and regulated.  She brings together Florens a slave, Lina a Native American labourer, Jacob Vaark, and Rebekkah, Jacob Vaark’s wife, who was sent from the Old World.  These three women are slaves in their own ways and bound by their situations.  Their relationships which begins as unified and solid almost like a “family” slowly but surely deteriorates and becomes rash, desperate, and unkind.  The place is the New World in the 17th century at the beginning where everything is wild and up for grabs by all different nationalities.  The story is told in first and third person and is not easy to understand but by the third chapter things become clearer.

I think Morrison was trying to show that slavery wasn’t always connected to the hatred of the black man and that many people had slave-like status in the New World in which men and women were trying to survive.  I must admit I enjoyed the second half of this book a lot more than the first half.  I felt disconnected from the characters and I missed the in-depth characterization that Morrison usually does.  Maybe this was done on purpose to accentuate these very different people coming together.  In my opinion, I think this book was too short.  I did enjoy reading the connections between the  characters and the way the connections were made(skillfully done), although it’s not a joyful read.  Once I started to get into the book it seemed to fly by and I was looking for more and then “pouf” it was over.  It’s about 160 pages and beautifully written, as always.  Nevertheless, I wouldn’t suggest this title to someone who has never read Morrison.  I would say start with The Bluest Eye or Sula and then work your way through Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Paradise, and of course the crème de la crème BelovedBeloved is not an easy read but it’s all worth it in the end.  It’s one of my favorites and I need to reread it.  I say check out A Mercy if you’re a Morrison fan.  I give it three and a half stars.  I don’t hate it but it’s not in my top favorites of Morrison.  I’ll have to hurry to read Love, since I read somewhere that she has a new novel coming out in May called Home.  It looks intriguing.

2 Comments

  1. I Love Toni Morrison’s work and I think ‘Love’ is my all time favourite… I have ‘Mercy’ but my husband is reading it at the moment, an unusual moment that he reads a book before me, but we were on holiday and he finished his book, so I lent him ‘Mercy’ which I had brought with me. I’m not expecting it back for a couple of weeks. Good to know there is another one coming. Thanks, great review and link.

    Like

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