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What Moves at the Margin: Selected Nonfiction

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What Moves at the Margin collects three decades of Toni Morrison's writings about her work, her life, literature, and American society. The works included in this volume range from 1971, when Morrison (b. 1931) was a new editor at Random House and a beginning novelist, to 2002 when she was a professor at Princeton University and Nobel Laureate. Even in the early days of her career, in between editing other writers, writing her own novels, and raising two children, she found time to speak out on subjects that mattered to her. From the reviews and essays written for major publications to her moving tributes to other writers to the commanding acceptance speeches for major literary awards, Morrison has consistently engaged as a writer outside the margins of her fiction. These works provide a unique glimpse into Morrison's viewpoint as an observer of the world, the arts, and the changing landscape of American culture.

The first section of the book, "Family and History," includes Morrison's writings about her family, Black women, Black history, and her own works. The second section, "Writers and Writing," offers her assessments of writers she admires and books she reviewed, edited at Random House, or gave a special affirmation to with a foreword or an introduction. The final section, "Politics and Society," includes essays and speeches where Morrison addresses issues in American society and the role of language and literature in the national culture.

Among other pieces, this collection includes a reflection on 9/11, reviews of such seminal books by Black writers as Albert Murray's South to a Very Old Place and Gayl Jones's Corregidora, an essay on teaching moral values in the university, a eulogy for James Baldwin, and Morrison's Nobel lecture. Taken together, What Moves at the Margin documents the response to our time by one of American literature's most thoughtful and eloquent writers.

Toni Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor Emerita at the Center for Creative and Performing Arts at Princeton University and is the author of Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, Paradise, and other novels. She has received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. Carolyn C. Denard is the author of scholarly essays on Toni Morrison and the forthcoming Cambridge Introduction to Toni Morrison. She is Associate Dean of the College at Brown University and founder of the Toni Morrison Society.

ISBN-13: 9781604730173

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Publication Date: 04-01-2008

Pages: 212

Product Dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Toni Morrison (1931–2019) was an award–winning American novelist. She received the Pulitzer Prize for her critically acclaimed novel, Beloved; inspired by the true story of a runaway slave, the book was adapted for film in 1998. Morrison was also the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 and was also honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. Her other most popular books include The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Song of Solomon. One of America's most gifted storytellers, Tony Morrison's writing is characterized by epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters, and her books continue to captivate readers to this day.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction xi
Family and History
A Slow Walk of Trees (as Grandmother Would Say), Hopeless (as Grandfather Would Say) 3
She and Me 15
What the Black Woman Thinks about Women's Lib 18
A Knowing So Deep 31
Behind the Making of The Black Book 34
Rediscovering Black History 39
Rootedness: The Ancestor as Foundation 56
The Site of Memory 65
Writers and Writing
On Behalf of Henry Dumas 83
Preface to Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions by Toni Cade Bambara 86
James Baldwin: His Voice Remembered; Life in His Language 90
Speaking of Reynolds Price 95
To Be a Black Woman: Review of Portraits in Fact and Fiction 100
The Family Came First: Review of Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow 103
Toni Morrison on a Book She Loves: Gayl Jones's Corregidora 108
Going Home with Bitterness and Joy: Review of South to a Very Old Place by Albert Murray 111
On The Radiance of the King by Camara Laye 118
Foreword to The Harlem Book of the Dead 133
Foreword to Writing Red: An Anthology of American Women Writers, 1930-1940 135
TheFisherwoman: Introduction to A Kind of Rapture: Photographs 138
Politics and Society
On the Backs of Blacks 145
The Talk of the Town 149
The Dead of September 11 154
For a Heroic Writers Movement 156
Remarks Given at the Howard University Charter Day Convocation 164
The Future of Time: Literature and Diminished Expectations 170
The Dancing Mind 187
How Can Values Be Taught in the University 191
The Nobel Lecture in Literature 198
Index 209