Relentlessly breathtaking and powerful, Paradise is Toni Morrison's first novel since being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. An Oprah's Book Club selection, this long-awaited novel is eloquent and psychologically stunning. In the mid-1970s, America is reeling from the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and the hippie counterculture. Ruby, an all-black Oklahoma community, is proud of its heritage and wary of the five women who inhabit the Convent at the edge of town. Of questionable morals, these racially diverse women seem to be at the center of everything that's going wrong in Ruby. Motives and secrets are dramatically revealed as nine of the town's upstanding citizens plan the brutal murder of the Convent's unusual residents. Vastly popular and with numerous literary awards to her credit, Toni Morrison is both passionate and cerebral. Paradise challenges listeners not only with such issues as civil rights, morality, and racism, but also with the drama and complexity of the human psyche. Tony Award-winning actress Lynne Thigpen skillfully captures every colorful nuance of this haunting work of suspense.
"We all long for paradise, although we are apparently incapable of creating one. And America, immense and wild at heart, has always made paradise seem possible to the oppressed, the enraptured, and the lost. It is this dream of utopia in a world of tangled and deeply rooted conflicts that Morrison explores and dramatizes in this tentacled and gripping novel about life in a small, all-black Oklahoma town during the 1970s. Oklahoma is spacious enough for people to achieve physical and moral isolation, which is just what the determined citizens of Ruby have done. Descendants of slaves who founded a town called Haven during Reconstruction, the people of Ruby are proud of their pure African American heritage, their religious convictions, and their prosperity, and not at all welcoming of strangers, especially the suspect females congregating at an old mansion known as the Convent. Once a school for Indian girls, it is now the home of an enigmatic, beautiful, and racially ambiguous woman named Consolata. Young women hitchhiking their way cross-country or driving stolen cars--refugees from domestic violence, disastrous love affairs, and madness--begin to appear at Consolata's door as if by magic. As Morrison braids together their wrenching stories and the stories of Ruby--the stern twin brothers who own the bank, their forgiving wives, young people feeling the pull of the greater world, a preacher skeptical of the town's insularity--she subtly connects their travails to tragedies of the past, including the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., as well as to the pervasiveness of "disorder, deception, and drift." Morrison is at her complex and commanding best in this mysterious tale as she presents a unique perspective on American history and leaves her dazzled readers shaking their heads over all that is perpetually inexplicable between men and women, rich and poor, the tyrannical and the free spirited. --Donna Seaman"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"So intense and evocative in its particulars, so wide-ranging in its arch, this is another, if imperfect, triumph for the Nobel Prize-winning author (Song of Solomon; Beloved; etc.). In 1950, a core group of nine old families leaves the increasingly corrupted African American community of Haven, Okla., to found in that same state a new, purer community they call Ruby. But in the early 1970s, the outside world begins to intrude on Ruby's isolation, forcing a tragic confrontation. It's about this time, too, that the first of five damaged women finds solace in a decrepit former convent near Ruby. Once the pleasure palace of an embezzler, the convent had been covered with lascivious fixtures that were packed away or painted over by the nuns. Time has left only "traces of the sisters' failed industry," however, making the building a crumbling, fertile amalgam of feminine piety and female sexuality. It's a woman's world that attracts the women of Rubyand that repels the men who see its occupants as the locus of all the town's ills. They are "not women locked safely away from men; but worse, women who chose themselves for company, which is to say not a convent but a coven." Only when Morrison treats the convent women as an entity (rather than as individual characters) do they lose nuance, and that's when the book falters. Still, the individual stories of both the women and the townspeople reveal Morrison at her best. Tragic, ugly, beautiful, these lives are the result of personal dreams and misfortune; of a history that encompasses Reconstruction and Vietnam; and of mystical grandeur. 400,000 first printing; simultaneous audio and large print editions (ISBN 0-375-40179-2; -70217-2) (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
|| Prince Frederick, MD :Recorded Books,1999
Narrated by Lynne Thigpen.
An unabridged recording of the book.
With tracks every 3 minutes for easy book marking.
In container (16 cm.).
12 audio discs (14 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.