By Toni Morrison

(Knopf, $24, 160 pages)

Who is this author?

Toni Morrison should need no introduction, but just in case you are not familiar with her, here is what you should know. Morrison, who is a professor at Princeton University and has published 10 novels, has won the biggest prizes in the literary world, most notably  a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, as well as a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize. She also was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom on May 29. Her novels include “The Bluest Eye,” “Song of Solomon,”  “Beloved” (the 1988 Pulitzer winner whose film version starred Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover and which The New York Times named in 2006 as the best American novel published in the previous 25 years), “Paradise” and “Love.” She is one of America’s finest novelists

 What is this book about?

“Home” is relatively short on pages but is long on power. Set in the 1950s, it is the story of Frank Money, a black soldier recently returned from the Korean War, who finds his younger sister, Cee, is in a world of trouble, working for an unscrupulous doctor who is performing dangerous experiments on her. Frank is suffering post-battle trauma and fully aware of the racism that still runs rampant in mid-20th century America, but his need to rescue Cee and bring her back home to the little Southern town they once hated gives him a purpose and a plan that helps him find himself.

Why you’ll like it:

Morrison is an amazingly good writer, whether her prose style is lyrically lush, as it was in “Paradise,’ or powerfully spare, as it is in “Home.”  Reviewers are saying that this short novel can be consumed in one sitting, as an exquisite dinner might be. Once Morrison ensnares you with her gorgeous authorial voice and compelling stories of love and betrayal, she does not let you go.

What others are saying:

Says Publishers Weekly: “In Pulitzer and Nobel Prize–winner Morrison’s immaculate new novel (after “A Mercy”), Frank Money returns from the horrors of the Korean War to an America that’s just as poor and just as racist as the country he fled. Frank’s only remaining connection to home is his troubled younger sister, Cee, “the first person ever took responsibility for,” but he doesn’t know where she is. … the novel’s opening scene describes horses mating, “their raised hooves crashing and striking, their manes tossing back from wild white eyes,” as one field over, the bodies of African-American men who were forced to fight to the death are buried: “…whatever you think and whatever you write down, know this: I really forgot about the burial. I only remembered the horses. They were so beautiful. So brutal.”  Beautiful, brutal, as is Morrison’s perfect prose.”

“A deceptively rich and cumulatively powerful novel…. even more crucially, it’s about the relationship between the brother and his younger sister, which changes significantly after his return home, as both of them undergo significant transformations. … A novel that illuminates truths that its characters may not be capable of articulating, says Kirkus Reviews.

“Toni Morrison doesn’t have to prove anything any more, and there’s artistic freedom in that calm. Her new novel, “Home,” is a surprisingly unpretentious story… this little book about a Korean War vet doesn’t boast the Gothic swell of her masterpiece, “Beloved” (1987), or the luxurious surrealism of her most recent novel, “A Mercy” (2008). But the diminutive size and straightforward style of “Home” are deceptive. This scarily quiet tale packs all the thundering themes Morrison has explored before. She’s never been more concise, though, and that restraint demonstrates the full range of her power,” says Ron Charles in The Washington Post.

“The events of this narrative are striking and arresting in the manner that one expects from Morrison, the only living American Nobel laureate in literature. Family secrets are revealed, brutal truths about the history of race in America are displayed without sentimentality or animus. As always, Morrison’s prose is immaculate, jaw-dropping in its beauty and audacity. . . . In addition to her reputation for gorgeous sentences, Morrison is known for a certain brutality in her plotting, and this wrenching novel is no exception. But “Home” also brims with affection and optimism. The gains here are hard won, but honestly earned, and sweet as love,” says Tayari Jones in the San Francisco Chronicle.

When is it available?

“Home” is on the new books shelves at the Downtown Hartford Public Library and the Barbour, Blue Hills, Camp Field, Dwight, Park and Ropkins branches.

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