What Moves at the Margin by Toni Morrison
Selected Nonfiction

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Synopsis

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.

 

About Toni Morrison

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Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio on February 18, 1931. She received a B.A. in English from Howard University in 1953 and a master's degree in English from Cornell University in 1955 with her thesis on the theme of suicide in modern literature. She taught at several universities including Texas Southern University, Howard University, and Princeton University. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. Her other works include Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Paradise, Love, A Mercy, and Home. She has won several awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award for 1977 for Song of Solomon, the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved in 1988, the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. She also co-wrote children's books with her younger son, Slade Morrison, including The Big Box, The Book of Mean People, and Peeny Butter Fudge. Carolyn C. Denard is an associate dean of the College at Brown University and founder of the Toni Morrison Society of the American Literature Association.
 
Published April 1, 2008 by University Press of Mississippi. 212 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for What Moves at the Margin

Publishers Weekly

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Although Morrison’s powerful novels on race and identity have secured her literary reputation, the commanding voice of her essays, speeches and reviews offers compelling insights into family, history, other writers and politics.

Jan 07 2008 | Read Full Review of What Moves at the Margin: Sel...

Bookmarks Magazine

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 Morris...

May 26 2008 | Read Full Review of What Moves at the Margin: Sel...

Red Room

Denard, founder of the Toni Morrison Society, What Moves at the Margin stands as a self-defining commentary on Morrison's overall cultural vision and as a singular extension of her literary output.

| Read Full Review of What Moves at the Margin: Sel...

Project MUSE

Although Morrison’s literary reputation, as Denard maintains, rests on her riveting novels, her nonfiction essays are mature statements in that they are powerful expressions of the novelist’s unique worldview—a vision the Swedish Academy defined as “an essential aspect of American reality.” Di...

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