In Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. Set in a racially divided Detroit at the end of the Great Depression, this dazzling novel centers on Milkman Dead, who is trying to fly with no one around him except his sister Summer and her husband Jack. From their Florida vacation to Summer’s return home to raise their only son Stevie, this stunning novel looks deeply into family relationships, love affairs, hidden secrets and unexpected death—all against the backdrop of racial tension in America.
In this exquisitely wrought novel, Toni Morrison presents a fable about innocence and the power of truth. After giving birth to her son, Milkman dead, Georgia Vidamard learns that she is not the mother of a newborn infant but of a “milkman”—a man who, as a child, was abandoned by his mother in the woods, only to be saved by a magical black woman named Rose. This vividly realized story not only includes moments of wisdom but also scenes of profound emotion: adolescent rage (“I’ll kill you!”), incestuous longing (“I’ve raised your child since he was born”), and even empathy (“It’s hard being who you are”?).
In the late 1950s, in a northern New York City housing project, 12-year-old Tressie “Teensie” McTeggs watches her boyfriend stand on a rooftop and fall. Milkman Dead will become an eccentric wizard of a man who “flies” to many destinations but lives only until his last breath. Though he is “black, first of all”—the only African American in the neighborhood—he is also dead to his fellow blacks, who can see nothing good in his life or death. The novel’s divided structure reveals both Milkman’s racism and its roots in Booker T. Washington’s teachings that black people must submit to white authority if they are ever to achieve equality.
About Song of Solomon Book
Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. He will also be trying to fly for the rest of his life. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.
Milkman Dead is a brilliant, coming-of-age novel as audaciously imagined by Toni Morrison as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. In a richly original style, Morrison tells the story of Jojo, a strapping young Black man from the Booty Bay Projects who work in the neighborhood but dreams of the sky. He becomes infatuated with a beautiful white woman who lives in a mansion on the corner and dreams of flying away. In Milkman Dead, Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Gabriel García Márquez or Philip Roth.