©John Mathew Smith
Toni Morrison (1931-2019) was an American novelist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Her most famous book is her 1987 novel Beloved, which has been recommended several times on Five Books. Before her death in 2019, she was the Robert F Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, at Princeton University.
Kaye Grabbe, a retired library director, wrote to us on Facebook with this message: “It’s a magnificent novel, but you can’t start reading Morrison with Beloved. Start at the beginning with The Bluest Eye and then read each amazing novel as she wrote them. Then when you get to Beloved, you will GET IT.”
To help readers, we’ve put Toni Morrison’s books in order below:
Books by Toni Morrison
Interviews where books by Toni Morrison were recommended
In 1993, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to American novelist Toni Morrison, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” Here, literary scholar Marilyn Mobley—Professor Emerita of English and African American Studies at Case Western Reserve University and a former President of the Toni Morrison Society—introduces her work, from the best novel to start with to the essays she published just before her death in 2019.
The writer and journalist Hermione Hoby’s highly acclaimed first novel is set during a New York heatwave. Here she picks five books inspired by this capacious, overstated, indomitable city and discusses how it shaped her as a writer.
The story of America is not one of a manageable unified nation, says novelist and critic David Hering. It may, however, be the story of America’s dream — which is why many of the best American novels have a distinctly dreamlike quality. He picks out five of the best American novels of the 20th century, from 1905 through to 1987.
Albeit an object of satire and overreach, the ‘Great American Novel’ remains a vital concept in American literature, encouraging writers to capture the essence of national culture and history, argues Lawrence Buell, Professor of American Literature Emeritus at Harvard University. He talks us through the origins of the phrase and nominates five novels as contenders.
An ever-growing body of authors are writing about the reality of what it means to be black in America, says Farah Jasmine Griffin, director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University. Here she recommends five works of African American literature, from greats like Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison to lesser-known gems by Ann Petry.
Canadian author Esi Edugyan, whose novel Washington Black is shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, picks five books that have inspired her novels, and shares wisdom on what it means to read fiction today