In 1992, Toni Morrison said “In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” This statement stands true to this day, as demonstrated when Disney executives and Adam Sandler’s Waterboy joined forces to make the film adaption of Beloved a box office bomb. Regardless of how the American public feels about the movie, the novel is a gorgeous, vital, and absolutely timeless work. Beloved is one of the best ghost stories ever written (inspired by reports of a slave mother who killed her child rather than return her to slavery) partly because the Atlantic Slave Trade is teeming with boundless horrors to work with. The guts of American history distend with crimes committed against Black bodies, and Morrison tears them out for all to see. Intergenerational trauma, systemic torture, and fractured families occupy these fearsome pages, and I dare you to look away.
Beloved by Toni Morrison, (List Price: 28.99, Vintage, 9781400033416, June 2004)
Reviewed by Terrance Hudson, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina