Toni Morrison’s first novel,The Bluest Eye was her effort to depict racial self-loathing and to question the standards of beauty in America.
In an afterword of the 1999 edition of The Bluest Eye Morrison states that “…even the casual racial contempt can cause devastation.”
Award winning editor and writer Dorothy Allison wrote of Morrison’s talent in handling the narrator, Claudia, of The Bluest Eye:
“It was the storyteller, Claudia, who looked at the world with unflinching honesty, the beauty, and the ugliness alike. I understood her the way she raked her own soul, holding herself responsible for sins she should never have thought hers.”
To be awarded a Nobel Prize for literature a writer must, of course, write exceptionally well but also contribute to the bettering of our world.
Toni Morrison writes exceptionally well as is evident in this lovely metaphor towards the end of The Bluest Eye:
And the years folded up like pocket handkerchiefs.
Or this from her masterpiece Beloved:
To get to a place where you could love anything you chose–not to need permission for desire–well now, that was freedom.
As far as contributing to the betterment of our world Morrison’s books deal with the inequalities in our society, the devastating effects of racism, incest, war and rape.
In her latest novel Home (2012) Morrison tackles once again the universal problem of self-hood spreading the message that one can never really find one’s worth in a spiritual impoverished home.
Her main character Frank Money is an angry, broken veteran of the Korean War who, after traumatic experiences on the front lines, finds himself back in racist America with more than just physical scars.
A good book, says Morrison in the afterword of The Bluest Eye, not only touches you but also moves you. Morrison’s novels do both.