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Four young women are brutally attacked in a convent near an all-black town in America in the mid-1970s. The inevitability of this attack, and the attempts to avert it, lie at the heart of PARADISE. Spanning the birth of the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, the counter culture and the politics of the late 1970s, deftly manipulating past, present and future, this novel of mysterious motives reveals the interior lives of the citizens of the town with astonishing clarity. The drama of its people - from the four young women and their elderly protector, to conservative businessmen, rednecks, a Civil Rights minister and veterans of three wars - richly evokes clashes that have bedevilled American society: between race and racelessness; patriarchy and matriarchy; religion and magic; freedom and belonging; promiscuity and fidelity. Magnificent in its scope, PARADISE is a revelation in the intensity of its potrayal of human complexity and in the sheer force of its narrative.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099768210
ISBN-10: 0099768216
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 21mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 25-Mar-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » This is as gripping and, at times, harrowing as any of Morrison's books and has been acclaimed by many as among her best. It concerns the stormy history of Ruby, an Oklahoma town set up by African-Americans for African-Americans, whose citizens are committed to the twin virtues of religion and self-help. The book's focal point is a brutal vigilante attack on a group of women who live in a former convent on the outskirts of the town. We then hear the individual stories of each of the women, and some of the townspeople. The women's stories especially make compelling reading: Seneca, abandoned as a child; Connie, a Portuguese street-child rescued by missionary nuns; Mavis, wrongly accused of murdering her twin babies; Gigi, in love with soft drugs and good times. Compassionate, violent and magical - this is essential reading. Shortlisted for the 1999 Orange Prize. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » The violence men inflict on women and the painful irony of an "all-black town" whose citizens themselves become oppressors are the central themes of Morrison's rich, symphonic seventh novel (after Jazz, 1992, etc.). The story begins with a scene of Faulknerian intensity: In 1976, in rural Oklahoma, nine men from the nearby town of Ruby attack a former convent now occupied by women fleeing from abusive husbands or lovers, or otherwise unhappy pasts - "women who chose themselves for company," whose solidarity and solitude rebuke the male-dominated culture that now exacts its revenge. That sounds simplistic, but the novel isn't, because Morrison makes of it a many-layered mystery, interweaving the individual stories of these women with an amazingly compact social history of Ruby's "founding" families and their interrelationships over several decades. It all comes at us in fragments, and we gradually piece together the tale of black freedmen after the Civil War gradually acquiring land and power, taking pride in the culture they've built - vividly symbolized by a memorial called "the Oven," the site of a communal field kitchen into whose stone is etched the biblical command "Beware the Furrow of His Brow." That wrathful prophecy is fulfilled as the years pass, feuds between families and even a rivalry between twin brothers grow ever more dangerous, and in the wake of "the desolation that rose after King's murder," Ruby succumbs to militancy; a Black Power fist is painted on the Oven, and the handwriting is on the wall. With astonishing fluency, Morrison connects the histories of the Convent's insulted and injured women with that of the community they oppose but cannot escape. Only her very occasional resort to digressive (and accusatory) summary (e.g., "They think they have outfoxed the whiteman when in fact they imitate him") mars the pristine surface of an otherwise impeccably composed, deeply disturbing story. Not perfect - but a breathtaking, risk-taking major work that will have readers feverishly, and fearfully turning the pages. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford; February 18, 1931) is an American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She was also commissioned to write the libretto for a new opera, Margaret Garner, first performed in 2005. She won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved and the Nobel Prize in 1993. On May 29, 2012, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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