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This is the story of Macon 'Milkman' Dead, heir to the richest black family in a midwestern town, as he makes a voyage of rediscovery, travelling southwards geographically and inwards spirituality. Through the enlightenment of one man the novel recapitulates the history of slavery and liberation.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781857152166
ISBN-10: 1857152166
Format: Hardback
(210mm x 130mm x 26mm)
Pages: 362
Imprint: Everyman's Library
Publisher: Everyman
Publish Date: 21-Sep-1995
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Macon Dead, son of a slave, is proud of his business acuity and his Packard car, though embarrassed by his unkempt sister, Pilate, who runs a notorious wine house. The author traces the development to maturity of Macon's son 'Milkman' Dead, born in 1931, and the shifting relationships between members of the family. Skilfully orchestrating a large cast of characters, the 1993 Nobel Prize-winner Morrison portrays the complex world of a black American community with startling clarity. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » "When you know your name, you should hang on to it, for unless it is noted down and remembered, it will die when you die." And the scribbled no-name "Macon Dead," given to a newly freed black man by a drunken Union Army officer, has stained out a family's real name for three generations, and then we meet the third "Macon Dead," called "Milkman." Raised among the sour hatreds of the richest black family in a Michigan town, Milkman learns not to love or make commitments, learns to turn away from his father's hard, tight greed, his mother's unloved passivity, his sisters' sterile virginity. He stands apart from his outcast aunt Pilate (a figure reminiscent of Sula, living beyond all reason), a "raggedy bootlegger" who keeps her name in a box threaded to one ear. And he stands above the wild untidy adoration of his cousin Hagar, above the atrocities against blacks in the 1950s, even while his friend organizes a black execution squad. However, when Milkman's father opens the door to a family past of murder and flight, Milkman - in order to steal what he believes is gold - begins the cleansing Odyssean journey. His wanderings will take him through a wilderness of rich and wonderful landscapes murmuring with old tales, those real names becoming closer and more familiar. He beholds eerie appearances (an ancient Circe ringed with fight-eyed dogs) - and hears the electric singing of children, which holds within it the pulse of truth. Like other black Americans, Milkman's retrieval of identity from obliteration helps him to shake off the "Dead" no-name state of his forebears. And, like all people, his examination of the past gives him a perspective that liberates the capacity for love. Morrison's narration, accomplished with such patient delicacy, is both darkly tense and exuberant; fantastic events and symbolic embellishments simply extend and deepen the validity and grace of speech and character. The gut-soul of Roots, with which this will be recklessly, inevitably linked, and a handsome display of a major talent. (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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