Toni Morrison and the Natural World

Through the works of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, this week's review links critical studies in African American literature and ecocriticism

Toni Morrison and the Natural World: An Ecology of Color

Wardi, Anissa Janine. University Press of Mississippi, 2021
208p bibl index, 9781496834164 $99.00, 9781496834171 $25.00, 9781496834188

Toni Morrison and the Natural World: An Ecology of Color  book cover

Also author of Death and the Arc of Mourning in African American Literature (2003) and Water and African American Memory: An Ecocritical Perspective (CH, May’12, 49-4936), Wardi (Chatham Univ.) here advances her acclaimed critical studies in African American literature and ecocriticism. By linking the ecology of colors in the natural environment with the work of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison’s fictionWardi traces a direct line between racism and ecocide. The introduction, “All of Them Colors Was in Me,” links embodiment with material ecocriticism and Morrison’s vision of sustainability and color theory with bodies of color. The chapters that follow focus on a particular color and the corresponding fiction. For example, brown, the color of skin, dirt, and compost, is used to explain meaning in Paradise and The Bluest Eye. Green, the color of life and healing, applies to BelovedHome, and Song of Solomon. “Blue, the color associated with islands, swamps, water, and other ecotones” applies to Tar Baby and Love. This fascinating, insightful study concludes with the “colors” black and white, the epitome of no color and all color and the historical foundation of racial prejudice signified in A Mercy and Jazz.

Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
L. L. Johnson, emerita, Lewis & Clark College
Interdisciplinary Subjects: African and African American Studies
Subject: Humanities – Language & Literature – English & American
Choice Issue: Jun 2022

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