Not quite Eden

Paradise

By Toni Morrison

Some people say that the novels of those writers who have won the Nobel Prize are impenetrable. I’ve no doubt that some of them are. And until Haruki Murakami gets given the nod by the Scandinavian history book writers, I won’t be entirely happy with the prize.

Toni Morrison is one of those Nobel laureates whose books are difficult, but also enlightening and insightful. They take you to places on the earth and in the mind that you know exist but may never have been to. In this book, she takes us to a town called Ruby, which does not actually exist. And I have to say that I found the book too difficult to enjoy. ‘Impenetrable’ would be too far. But ‘confusing’ probably nails it.

I don’t doubt Morrison’s achievement with this book. It is a wonderful sociological study of race and gender – as her books usually are – but I felt very oppressed by all the characters’ genealogies. They are central to the plot, but too complicated for a reader who wants to think more about the emotions conveyed by the book than the lineages of its characters.

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