Tag: toni morrison

Brooklyn Museum to Celebrate Toni Morrison on her 89th Birthday

Following her death on August 5, 2019, the world has felt the absence of literary legend Toni Morrison. Known for being a leading novelist in writing about the black experience in America, Morrison remains one of the most renowned American authors. On today, what would have been her eighty-ninth birthday, the Brooklyn Museum is dedicating an entire festival to the legendary author and celebrating her contributions to the literary world. 

 

image via eventbrite

 

 

Ohio-born Morrison earned her B.A. in English from Howard University and later her Masters in American Literature from Cornell University. In the late 1960s, she became the first black female editor in fiction at Random House. Her first novel The Bluest Eye was published in 1970 and remains one of her most celebrated works. Her third novel Song of Solomon, published in 1987, earned her the National Book Critics Circle award. She was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her novel Beloved in 1988. In 1993, Morrison became the first and only black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature for her collective body of work. In 2012, President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Toni Morrison died on August 5, 2019 in New York City due to complications of pneumonia. She was mourned by many and remembered for her great contributions to the literary world.

 

image via the New Yorker

 

In honor of what would have been her eighty-ninth birthday, the Brooklyn Museum is hosting a festival titled The Toni Morrison Festival: Alive at 89. The festival will take place today, February 18, from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Brooklyn Museum. This festival will not only highlight Morrison’s storied legacy, but also touch on the ongoing lack of diversity within literature, note festival founders Magogodi Makhene and Cleyvis Natera Tucker. The event will feature guests and performers such as Sandra Guzman, Tyehimba Jess, and Mitchell S. Jackson, among others. Event organizers say the festival seeks to “reimagine our literary history today by centering Toni Morrison as one of many diverse thinkers.” Tickets are available via Eventbrite, with the first 100 tickets free and following at ten dollars a ticket.

 

 

Featured Image via Vanity Fair

 


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5 Books by Black Female Authors

Before 1919, when women were given the right to vote, women weren’t respected as apart of mankind. Black women had it worse as many were assaulted by white slaveowners, and were less than deserving of anything but to bear children. This, however, did not stop the aspiring black authors to write in a time when blacks were forbidden to read or write. Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson, written in 1859, become the first book to be published by an African American woman. This book gave women the opportunity to have the courage to continue to have a voice and publish their own books. These are five books that have continued to be a highlight in the world today.

 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

 

Image Via Kobo.com

Published in 1961, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is among the few existing slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiography is an account that follows the life of Harriet Jacobs and how she managed to escape from servitude in North Carolina, to freedom in the North. Jacobs writes about her life as a slave and the trials she endured through her escape.

 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Image Via Amazon

Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is a must-read as it deals with the life of Janie Crawford as she sets out to be her own person. Independence was a huge feat for a black woman in the 30s. This leads her through three marriages and, as the blurb states, “into a journey back to her roots.”

 

A Raisin in The Sun

Image Via Chicago Public Library

Lorraine Hansberry’s, A Raisin in the Sun, is an award-winning drama that speaks on the hopes and dreams of a working-class family in the South Side of Chicago. The title originates from Langston Hughes’ poem Harlem, with a line that reads “dry up/like a raisin in the sun.”

 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Image Via Goodreads

Sent to live with her grandmother in the South, Maya and her brother Bailey are faced to endure prejudice and abandonment from their mother. When she is eight years old, Maya is abused by her mother’s boyfriend, a man who is many years her senior. Many years later, Maya learns to love herself and to be free from the horrors of the past.

 

Song of Solomon

Image Via Amazon

Toni Morrison’s, Song of Solomon, is a coming of age story that follows the life of Milkman Dead, who attempts to fly off a rooftop. Milkman lives the rest of his life trying to fly as he hurdles through his family’s origins.

 

For more books written by Black female authors, check out The Zora Canon.


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5 Quotes To Help You Kick Your NaNoWriMo Slump

With the month winding down and NaNoWriMo writers working to reach their respective 50,000 word goals, it should come as no surprise that many of these NaNo participants are experiencing a writer’s slump. Some of these individuals might be dealing with deadlines that relate to school, or perhaps work is taking its toll as the holidays fast approach. Or maybe it’s just good old fashioned writer’s block — the scourge of all writers.

Regardless, this is the time of the month where NaNo writers are confronted by their exhaustion, and they have to make the choice to keep working towards their goals or to call it good for the year. To keep you going, here are five quotes from writers to encourage you to keep working on your NaNo project.

1. “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

Image via Film at Lincoln center

Toni Morrison, author of Beloved and The Bluest Eye, is a Nobel Prize recipient and the writer of more than ten books.

 

2. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Sir Terry Pratchett

Image via Britannica.com

While alive, Terry Pratchett wrote over 40 books. His impressive bibliography includes titles like Good Omens (co-written with Neil Gaiman) and the Discworld series.

 

3. “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” – Annie dillard

image via the Nation

Annie Dillard is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the writer of books like The Writing Life and Living By Fiction. She has dabbled in multiple literary styles– everything from poetry to prose, and from fiction to nonfiction.

 

4. “It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself.” – Zadie Smith

image via Brain Pickings

Zadie Smith has been listed on Granta’s 20 Best Young British Novelists on two separate occasions. She is a recipient of the Orange Prize for Fiction award and a member of the Royal Society of Literature. She wrote the novels White Teeth and On Beauty.

 

5. “Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

image via Nbc News

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been rewarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy award, and the Orange Prize. She wrote the novels Americanah and Half of A Yellow Sun

Featured Image Via Pinterest

 

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8 of Literature Worst Monsters (Who weren’t all that bad)

Who are literature’s worst monsters, but aren’t actually all that bad? Who has a silver lining that we can look into? Who are the almost monsters of literature that are almost terrible but not quite?

Let’s find out!

 

 

8-Vernon Dursley

Vernon Dursley

Image Via Cat and Ellie’s Bookcase – WordPress.com

 

At least Umbridge told Harry the truth! At least she told him that he shouldn’t lie!

Not only did this pig in a human suit lie to Harry, but he abused him since he was a BABY. He’s not even magical.

Objectively, of all the characters from the Harry Potter series, Vernon Dursley is just the worse. He’s human, so we can judge him as much as we want, for keeping a baby in a closet under the stairs for ELEVEN YEARS. Voldemort had the decency to try and kill Harry, Umbridge at least spoke in a nice voice, but Vernon just yelled at him, smacked him around, lied about his parents, and threw him under a closet for ELEVEN YEARS.

To make matters worse, no one called the cops. At least Petunia kept the blanket Harry came in when he was a baby.

At least Umbridge told Harry the truth! At least she told him that he shouldn’t lie!

Voldemort had the decency to try and kill Harry, Umbridge at least spoke in a nice voice, but this pig in a human suit just yelled at him, smacked him around, lied about his parents. At least Aunt Petunia kept the blanket Harry came in when he was a baby. Of all the characters in the Harry Potter series, he’s not even magical, but he’s certainly one of the worse.

OR IS HE?

Horcruxes can influence those around them and Voldemort made one out of Harry. Thus the Dursleys’ dislike of him was exacerbated by Voldemort’s magic.

 

J K Rowling
Image Via Parade

 

Granted, J K Rowling said this:

James was amused by Vernon, and made the mistake of showing it. Vernon tried to patronise James, asking what car he drove. James described his racing broom.

Vernon supposed out loud that wizards had to live on unemployment benefit. James  explained about Gringotts, and the fortune his parents had saved there, in solid gold.

Vernon could not tell whether he was being made fun of or not, and grew angry. The evening ended with Vernon and Petunia storming out of the restaurant, while Lily burst into tears and James (a little ashamed of himself) promised to make things up with Vernon at the earliest opportunity.

Either way, Vernon might not be as bad we thought he is (though he’s still pretty terrible)

 

7-Moby Dick

Moby Dick

Image Via Public Radio International

 

The titular character from Moby Dick, at the end of the day, is a WHALE. It has no concept of good of evil, it’s just a big whale.

 

Captain Ahab

Image Via The Guardian

 

Captain Ahab is the rotten one here. Blame him, not the whale!

 

 

6-Alexandra Finch Hancock

Image result for Aunt Alexandra
Image Via To Kill A Mocking Bird.com

 

While not the worse character in To Kill a Mocking Bird (the real monster is Bob Ewell), Aunt Alexandra is a racist piece of crap. The formidable matriarch of the Finch family, Aunt Alexandra is the king of woman who wears a corset even under her bathrobe. Before she even comes onto the page, Scout compares her to Mount Everest: “throughout my early life, she was cold and there,” but when she comes on the page she far exceeds our expectations of her.

Bossy, hyper-critical, Aunt Alexandra likes thinks done her way or the highway. Imagine the pressure poor Atticus is under when she targets him, taking umbrage with his client, Tom Robinson, noting that the case might endanger the Finch reputation.

She forgoes human decency because of the family. To her, “what is the best for the family” is more important than the family itself.

Aunt Alexandra, in underlining the moral of young Sam Merriweather’s suicide, said it was caused by a morbid streak in the family. Let a sixteen-year-old girl giggle in the choir and Aunty would say, “It just goes to show you, all the Penfield women are flighty.” Everybody in Maycomb, it seemed, had a Streak: a Drinking Streak, a Gambling Streak, a Mean Streak, a Funny Streak.

She’s obsessed with family streaks, hinting that she believes that the Finches are destined to be superior. In a book about racism, the real reason Aunt Alexandra doesn’t think Atticus should take the case are clear.

She also uses it to beat Scout over the head with.

Oh, yeah, Scout is in her line of sights as well. Scout is a tomboy, Aunt Alexandra is a proper lady, the pinnacle of the South. Thus, Alexandria sets to work trying to quash Scout’s tomboyish tendencies and forge a new identity for her.

Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s lonely life.

But it’s not just racism, Aunt Alexandra is also a classist. When Scout wants to play with Walter, a poor boy, Aunt Alexandra:

…took off her glasses and stared at me. “I’ll tell you why,” she said. “Because—he—is—trash, that’s why you can’t play with him. I’ll not have you around him, picking up his habits and learning Lord-knows-what.”

 

Image result for Atticus Finch and Aunt Alexandra
Image Via PInterest

 

However, are we judging her too harshly? Is our picture of her incomplete?

After Tom is killed, family affection that looms largest for Aunt Alexandra, telling Miss Maudie:

“I can’t say I approve of everything he does, Maudie, but he’s my brother, and I just want to know when this will ever end. […] It tears him to pieces”

She’s concerned for her brother, standing by him even when she disagrees with him. Make of that what you will, but at least she’s not Bob Ewell, a man so terrible that I’ll bet when Boo Radley killed him no one in town even batted an eye. Not even his daughters.

 

5-Grendel’s Mother

Image result for Grendel's Mother
Image Via ArtStation

 

Depending on your translation of Beowulf, she is either called Grendel’s mother or Grendel’s dam, but I’d liked to call her Mother-whose-son-had-his-arm-ripped off.

I think we can all sit down and agree that Grendel is a monster. He terrorized a village and Beowulf was in the right in defending the town against that monster, but Grendel’s Mommy isn’t that bad. Her son was returned to their cave mortally wounded, one of his two arms (or claws) ripped from its shoulder socket and now hanging in a mead-hall as a grotesque trophy.

Of course she’s going to be mad. And you know what? Good for her for stealing her son’s arm back. Why’d they even want it so bad?

 

Grendel's Mother decapitated

Image Via PInterest

 

But Beowulf just had to come, invading her home, and decapitating her.

Her motive is human and, from her point-of-view, she’s lived there over a hundred years and was never a problem. She just wanted her son’s arm, but they just had to kill her because she was a monster. As Tyrion once said, “I wish I was the monster you think I am!”

 

 

4-Cholly Breedlove

Image Via Baakari Wilder

 

Pecola Beedlove, a young black girl, is routinely mocked by other children for her physical appearance. The only person to find her desirable is her father.

Cholly Breedlove makes this list. To make a long story short, he abuses his wife, he burns down his family home, and repeatedly rapes his own daughter.

But he’s not quite the evilest character Toni Morrison has ever created. In his one and only appearance in The Bluest Eye, we learn quite enough about him that creates a picture of how abusive is cyclical.

 

Cholly Breedlove

Image Via Youtube

 

Abandoned in a junk heap as a baby, Cholly is taken in by two white men who force him to perform sexually for their amusement. When he finally meets his father, he shits his pants.

Thrown in a world where people abuse him, Cholly grows up into a man who doesn’t care about life. He’s free, but he cannot love or be loved. He does what he wants, uncaring for what happens him.

He rapes his daughter to remind himself that he is alive. He rapes her to feel the pain he felt as a child because that’s all he knows. He’s a monster made from monsters who tries to make his own daughter into a monster, all the time thinking ‘monster’ is synonymous with ‘human.’

 

3-Jaime Lannister

Jaime Lannister
Image Via A Wiki of Ice and Fire – Westeros

 

Kingslayer.

Oathbreaker.

Snobbish, rude, Jaime Lannister is in a relationship with his twin sister, Cersei, making three bastards that are set to become Kings and Queens themselves without the actual King Robert none the wiser. He even throws Bran out a window when he catches him having sex with his sister, crippling the boy.

But do I even need to explain why this character from George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series just isn’t as bad as he sounds?

At the age of fifteen Jaime become the Kingsguard to the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen. He took an oath to defend the King no matter what, and he broke that oath.

 

Jaime Lannister

Image Via PInterest

 

Yeah, he killed the king, but for two years he witnessed the Mad King’s growing insanity and tendency for burning men alive first hand. One night after burning someone alive, Aerys visited the chambers of his wife and raped her. During this time, Jaime was outside, telling his fellow Kinsguard that they were sworn to protect the queen as well, to which he was told, “but not from him.”

Later, during a rebellion, Aerys devised a plot to burn the entire city to the ground rather than lose it. Upon learning about this plan, the Hand to the King resigned and Aerys burned him alive. Jaime stood back.

When Aerys ordered the city to be burned, Jaime killed everyone involved, including the King, an action which saved the whole city and caused them to hate Jaime for breaking his oath. Even after he was pardoned, even Jon Snow, who “[knows] nothing,” notes that “[t]hey called him the Lion of Lannister to his face and whispered ‘Kingslayer’ behind his back.”

 

2-The Wicked Witch of the west

The Wicked Witch of the West

Image Via THe Vintage News

 

Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a witch by their name. Plus, odds are this witch only chose the name because of the alliteration. Ignoring the film adaptation and the musical and book the musical is based on, the original Frank L Baum book introduced her only when some magician tells Dorothy to murder her.

Taking the film into consideration, however, the Wicked Witch is still sympathetic. Dorothy murdered her sister, dropping a house on her head, and then her sister’s body disintegrated. The last thing the Witch has to remember her sister by is a pair of shoes, which Dorothy can’t give her and Glinda refuses to take off her feet.

 

Wicked

Image Via IMDB

 

Imagine if your sibling was murdered and the murderer had their prized heirloom on their feet, refusing to give it you because they didn’t like you. And why doesn’t Dorothy try to talk to the Witch? Is it because she’s Green?

The Witch was in the right. She might not have gone about it the right way, but Dorothy is a murderer hanging out with a discount iron man, a scarecrow (don’t give him any fear toxin), and a lion.

Plus, Wicked, both book and musical changed our minds about this Witch.

 

 

1-The SharkJaws

Image Via Amazon

 

IT’S A SHARK! It has no concept of good of evil, just food and hunger. Both in the Peter Benchley novel and the Steven Spielberg film, it is a big hungry shark.

 

Image Via MovieFanFare

 

The mayor should have closed the beaches. Blame him (or the mob), not the shark.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Decider

8 of Michelle Obama’s Must-Reads

Book lovers and Obama supporters alike wait with anticipation every year to hear Barrack Obama’s book picks for that summer. Fortunately, you now have another round of books to choose from thanks to Michelle who has a few book recommendations of her own. Despite your ever-growing to-be-read pile, when Michelle Obama tells you to read a certain book, you listen!

Following the release of her own memoir, Becoming, Michelle reveals eight more must-reads in her “By the Book” interview, published on December 6, 2018 in the New York Times. Other titles come from an interview with Jenna Bush Hager and a memorial posted on Instagram for what would have been a Holocaust victim’s ninetieth birthday.

 

 

8-Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon

Image Via Image via The Stanford Daily

 

Part of the reason why Morrison received the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature, Song of Solomon follows the life of Michigan native, Macon through his life as he searches for a sense of identity.

 

7-The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train

Image Via Image via Penguin Books Australia

 

Before the major motion picture, Rachel was just a girl who liked to ride the train everyday to London and back. It’s definitely not because the train passes her ex-husband’s house or the because she can see the perfect couple she envies so who live a few houses down. Definitely not.

 

 

6-White Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth

Image Via Image via Book Riot

 

Smith’s London-centric novel follows two friends, one Bangladeshi and one Englishman, as they navigate family, friendship and life in the city.

 

5-Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Image via Apple Books

 

The archetype for unreliable narrators, Gone Girl will have you guessing until the very last page. Follow Nick and her husband Amy who disappears, but why…and how…and where?

 

4-An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage

Image Via Image via Oneworld Publications

 

Jones’ novel follows newlyweds who separate after a daunting rape trial. When they reunite later in life, things somehow get even more complicated.

 

 

3-Educated by Tara Westover

Educated

Image via Booktopia

 

Westover’s biographical memoir tells the story of how she fell in love with learning after growing up with little to none of it at all.

 

2-The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank

Image Via Image via Book Depository

 

Frank’s diary which she kept as a young girl before her family was sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust relay the horrors of the terrible tragedy.

 

1-Commonwealth by Anne Patchett

Commonwealth

Image Via Inprint

 

Patchett’s bestseller tells the story of a family whose dynamic gets turned upside down at a family christening and what happens when that child grows up and decides to share that story.

 

 

Featured Image via AARP