Rare Tony Morrison short story to be released this month


For most of the world, the late Tony Morrison was a novelist, celebrated for classics such as “Favorite,” “Song of Solomon” and “The Bluest Eye.”

But the Nobel laureate did not limit himself to one type of writing.

Morris also completed plays, poems, essays and short stories, one of which is coming out as a book on February 1. “Recitatif,” written by Morrison in the early 1980s and rarely seen in later decades, follows his life. Two women from childhood to their conflicting destinies as adults. Zeddy Smith contributes to the introduction and the audio version of the story is read by actor Bahini Turpin.

Autumn M., Professor of English and African American Studies at Princeton University. According to Womack (where Morrison taught for years), the author wrote short literature, at least from her college years at Howard University and Cornell University, although she never published. Story collection. “Reconciliation” was included in “Confirmation: An Anthology of African American Women” co-edited and now out of print by poet-playwright Amiri Baraka. You will start to think of her as an experimenter. You will move away from the idea that she was just a novelist and think of her as a person trying all kinds of writing, “Womek said.

“Recitatiff” refers to the musical expression defined by Merriam-Webster, “a rhythmically free tone style that mimics the natural expressions of speech,” a style frequently suggested by Morrison. The story tells of a series of interviews between Roberta and Twaila, one of which is black, the other white, although we have yet to guess which one.

They meet as girls at the St. Bonaventure Children’s Shelter (“Stuck in a strange place with a girl of another race was something else,” recalls the story’s narrator Twaila) and occasionally they run into each other. Years later, whether at Upstate New York at Howard Johnson, where Twilight worked and Roberta arrives with a man scheduled to meet Jimmy Hendrix, or at a nearby food emporium. “Once, twelve years ago, we passed like strangers. ., “Says Twaila. “A black girl and a white girl meet Howard Johnson on the street and have nothing to say. In a blue and white triangle waitress hat – with his male partner to see the other Hendrix. We are now behaving like many long separated sisters. Were. “

As Womeck notes, “Recitatif” includes themes found elsewhere in Morrison’s work, whether at the heart of his novel “Sula” is the complex relationship between two women or the racial ambiguity Morrison used in the 1998 novel “Paradise”. Morrison refers to a white character without specifying who he is in the black community. Morris often referred to race as a social invention, once writing that “the realm of racial distinction is allowed intellectual weight over which it has no claim.”

In her introduction, Smith likens “recitative” to a puzzle or game, while warning that “Tony Morrison does not play.” The mystery begins with the opening lines, “My mother danced all night and Roberta was sick:” Well, now, what kind of mother dances all night? “Smith asks.” Black or white? “Throughout the story, Mention everything from hair length to social status to challenge assumptions.

Like most readers of Recitatif, I found it impossible not to be hungry to know who the other is, Twaila or Roberta, “admits Smith.

“It simply came to our notice then. That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. “

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