On Our Shelves Now
In this startling group memoir, four friends—black and white, gay and straight, immigrant and American-born—use Toni Morrison’s novels as a springboard for intimate and revealing conversations about the problems of everyday racism and living whole in times of uncertainty. Tackling everything from first love and Soul Train to police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, the authors take up what it means to read challenging literature collaboratively and to learn in public as an act of individual reckoning and social resistance.
Framing their book club around collective secrets, the group bears witness to how Morrison’s works and words can propel us forward while we sit with uncomfortable questions about race, gender, and identity. How do we make space for black vulnerability in the face of white supremacy and internalized self-loathing? How do historical novels speak to us now about the delicate seams that hold black minds and bodies together?
This slim and brilliant confessional offers a radical vision for book clubs as sites of self-discovery and communal healing. The Toni Morrison Book Club insists that we find ourselves in fiction and think of Morrison as a spiritual guide to our most difficult thoughts and ideas about American literature and life.
About the Author
Juda Bennett is a professor of English at The College of New Jersey and the author of Toni Morrison and the Queer Pleasure of Ghosts and The Passing Figure. Winnifred Brown-Glaude is an associate professor of African American studies and sociology at The College of New Jersey and the author of Higglers in Kingston: Women’s Informal Work in Jamaica. Cassandra Jackson is a professor of English at The College of New Jersey and the author of Violence, Visual Studies, and the Black Male Body and Barriers between Us: Interracial Sex in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction. Piper Kendrix Williams is an associate professor of English and African American studies at The College of New Jersey and the coeditor of Representing Segregation: Toward an Aesthetics of Living Jim Crow, and Other Forms of Racial Division.
“What can the work of Toni Morrison teach us about the world we live in? Morrison’s work provides a scaffolding here; the narrative frame of the distinct voices is unique and makes for an intriguing multivocal experience.”—Emily Bernard, author of Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine
“Poignant. Fear and dread run through this book in a really impactful way, and every revelation felt substantive and singular. Reading Morrison becomes vital to the group’s efforts to mourn and to march forward in their own lives.”—Michelle S. Hite, Spelman College
“For book lovers and history buffs, as well as the politically engaged, this collection, though small in size, will yield vast intellectual riches.”—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)