Paradise

by Toni Morrison

Plume | April 8, 1999 | Trade Paperback

Paradise is rated 2.75 out of 5 by 4.
"They shoot the white girl first. With the others they can take their time." Toni Morrison''s first novel since she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature opens with a horrifying scene of mob violence then chronicles its genesis in a small all-black town in rural Oklahoma. Founded by descendants of free slaves as intent on isolating themselves from the outside world as it once was on rejecting them, the patriarchal community of Ruby is built on righteousness, rigidly enforced moral law, and fear. But seventeen miles away, another group of exiles has gathered in a promised land of their own. And it is upon these women in flight from death and despair that nine male citizens of Ruby will lay their pain, their terror, and their murderous rage...

Paradise is a tour de force of storytelling power, richly imagined and elegantly composed. Morrison challenges our most fiercely held beliefs as she weaves folklore and history, memory and myth, into an unforgettable meditation on race, religion, gender, and the way a society can turn on itself until it is forced to explode.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 8.04 × 5.4 × 0.75 in

Published: April 8, 1999

Publisher: Plume

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0452280397

ISBN - 13: 9780452280397

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not So Raw or Uncomfortable As Her Other Reads Such a compelling read that kept me immersed in its pages and world that it was hard to come up for breath. A tough book to review as I just feel like gushing over it enthusiastically! I haven't read a book by Morrison that I didn't like but I did find this one quite different. It wasn't so raw nor did it deal with such uncomfortable subjects as the other books I've read by her so far that it did make a unexpected, but pleasant, change for me. Each chapter tells the story from a different woman's point of view (though always from the third person) and this is one of my personal favourite devices in storytelling. It is a story of race, as it tells the story of a black town founded on the principles that many original black towns, after slavery, were themselves colour conscience and this specific group of ex-slaves and free men (and their family's) were very dark black, searching to settle down but refused entry to a light-skinned black town. So they found Ruby, a place that disregards "white" ways but has a special grudge against the "light-skinned" of their own race. They find their nemesis in a convent house located outside of their town which is inhabited by a rag-tag of abandoned, forlorn but independent women of varying races which the reader is never made aware of except that one is white. The book starts off with a group of the townsmen descending upon the convent women and shooting the "white one" first. Then we go back in time and the whole story of both the town's founding and present state along with how the various women came and ended up staying at the old convent came to such an ominous state such as where we first find them. A totally gripping read of strong female characters who escape their dysfunctional lives and become independent and bond with each other while only miles away a secluded patriarchal society grows deeper and deeper into believing its own righteousness and thinking itself above the "whitemen's" law. A stunning read. Not my favourite of Morrison's but very close and appealing to see her write something a little different from her usual themes.
Date published: 2014-04-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Yuck I really did not enjoy this book. I found it difficult to get through and was just as confused on the last page as I was after the first few pages.
Date published: 2008-07-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Paradise Lost Toni Morrison shows her mastery of language and storytelling in this novel which recounts the flawed foundation of an all-black town which decays into violence and destruction. It follows the lives of several women whose lives bring them to the convent in Ruby. The fact that they are self sufficient and differ from the rest of the town makes them the eventual scapegoats. Important racial commentary by a superb writer.
Date published: 2001-05-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Missing something I am an avid reader of Toni Morrison and enjoy indulging in her whimsical and different novels, however, this novel can be confusing causing the reader to lose interest quickly. The first page is the only good thing about this novel.
Date published: 2000-12-30

– More About This Product –

Paradise

by Toni Morrison

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 8.04 × 5.4 × 0.75 in

Published: April 8, 1999

Publisher: Plume

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0452280397

ISBN - 13: 9780452280397

From the Publisher

"They shoot the white girl first. With the others they can take their time." Toni Morrison''s first novel since she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature opens with a horrifying scene of mob violence then chronicles its genesis in a small all-black town in rural Oklahoma. Founded by descendants of free slaves as intent on isolating themselves from the outside world as it once was on rejecting them, the patriarchal community of Ruby is built on righteousness, rigidly enforced moral law, and fear. But seventeen miles away, another group of exiles has gathered in a promised land of their own. And it is upon these women in flight from death and despair that nine male citizens of Ruby will lay their pain, their terror, and their murderous rage...

Paradise is a tour de force of storytelling power, richly imagined and elegantly composed. Morrison challenges our most fiercely held beliefs as she weaves folklore and history, memory and myth, into an unforgettable meditation on race, religion, gender, and the way a society can turn on itself until it is forced to explode.

About the Author

Pulitzer Prize-winner Toni Morrison is one of today's leading novelists, as well as a writer whose African American identity has helped shape her impressive literary contributions. As Jean Strouse, who wrote a Newsweek cover story about her, says, "Morrison hates it when people say she is not a "black writer."'"Of course I'm a black writer. That's like saying Dostoevski's not a Russian writer. They mean I'm not just a black writer, but categories like black writer, woman writer, and Latin American writer aren't marginal anymore. We have to acknowledge that the thing we call "literature' is pluralistic now, just as society ought to be." Toni Morrison's novels show a steady progression not only in artistic skill but also in the range and scope of her subjects and settings. The first three take place in African American communities in dominantly white Lorain, Ohio, where Toni Morrison, as Chloe Anthony Wofford, grew up as a member of a stable family of six headed by a father who often worked three jobs simultaneously in order to support his family during the Depression years. She graduated from Howard University and received a master's degree from Cornell University with her thesis on the theme of suicide in modern literature. She teaches writing at Princeton University. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970), is an experimental work that begins haltingly with the Dick-and-Jane language of a grade school primer and slowly develops into a poetically tragic story of a little Afric
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From Our Editors

1993 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Toni Morrison brings us an absorbing story that juxtaposes traditional with modern values and race with racelessness. The powerful story opens with the brutal attack of four young women in a convent near an all-black town in mid '70s America. Each of singular provenance, they are together suggestive of the era: of the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the counter culture and generational conflict. At once a revolution and revelation, Paradise stands alone in its intense portrayal of human complexity and evocative prose.

Toni Morrison is the author of many books including The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award), Tar Baby and Beloved (awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1987). Morrison teaches at Princeton University.

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