Toni Morrison’s final novel begins like this: “It’s not my fault. So you can’t blame me. I didn’t do it and have no idea how it happened.” For anyone who has avoided reading Morrison, with the thought of her Nobel Prize too heavy a weight to negotiate, even this brief excerpt serves as evidence that her stories are accessible.
Over the summer, I read Home, but I couldn’t bring myself to read God Help the Child (2015) on its heels. Even though I appreciate rereading, I romanticize the idea of reading, for the first time, a final work in an author’s oeuvre. (Even though I grew up reading L.M. Montgomery’s novels, some of them countless times when I was a girl, I have read all but one of her books, even now. Maybe that’s another idea for 2021.)
A character with a fleeting appearance in The Color Purple and The Temple of My Familiar is at the heart of Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992). Walker is another of my MustReadEverything authors, but in the past I’ve chosen to reread The Color Purple, rather than read another of her earlier novels freshly. What can I say, Celie’s story calls me back. It’s because I wholly and unreservedly love the ending. So, there, if you were afraid it was too much, perhaps I can convince you otherwise.
Possessing begins: “I did not realize for a long time that I was dead.” Which is a curious beginning. When it came to choosing between this one and The Temple of My Familiar, I opted for Tashi’s story, having recently read another novel about khatna, which proponents (of a Suni Muslim sect, the Dawoodi Bohra) consider female circumcision, a powerful ritual, and opponents consider Female Genital Mutilation, a misogynistic trauma. (Farzana Doctor’s Seven)