Book Review: A Mercy, Toni Morrison

When I ran out of my own reading material in Pittsburgh, I went through R's stack of unread books and randomly selected Toni Morrison's "A Mercy." The New York Times review from November '08 here; mine below.

I've read the Nobel Prize winner's books before, but never really took to her as a writer. However, this book has captivated me in small and big chunks.

The language is neither English, prose or poetry, but rather a combination of each, with a stream of consciousness approach to sentences and whole chapters. This flow can occasionally be difficult to follow, but nonetheless creates a profound connection to the characters' voices. And the characters' voices change, readjust and gather in spirit, if not always on a physical or linear plane, in resonance.

Morrison will spare you nothing. She digs into souls and resurrects the pestilence of 17c slavery.

Sorrow becomes Complete. Florens turns to Wildness. Sir dies. Mistress becomes Cruelty. Lina drowns in silence Alone.

But it is Mother who calls for Mercy, and it is Morrison who takes it away.

Whether a fan of Morrison, an avid reader or a searcher of unsung songs, a must read book.


  1. I should have commented here earlier when I replied to your entry about the Exacompta-- it seems that we have a lot of the same interests! I'm a big Morrison reader, and A Mercy was such an interesting read for me.

    In general, I couldn't help feeling that A Mercy was a 400-page book stuffed into nearly the length of a novella. I wanted to dive more deeply into it, and it seemed to just skim the surface.

  2. You may be right in that assessment. Certainly much was omitted and left to the imagination.

    Perhaps Morrison had her eye so focused on the finish line, she neglected to cover all the bases.

    Sweeping away from Sir, rapidly, was somewhat disjointed to say the least, and the looseness in time often disconcerting.