It’s not very likely to hear us expressing doubt about Ms. Toni Morrison‘s literary abilities. If anything, our appreciation for her craft only grows larger with the release of each new work. Her latest novel, Home, explores the homecoming of Frank Money, a Korean War vet who signed up for the service to get away from his hometown, only to return weary and disturbed and not sure of how welcome he will be. The reviews are in—is this still the Toni Morrison we all know and love?
Toni Morrison’s new novel “Home” is a slim volume. That alone excuses it from providing the sweeping exhilaration of “Beloved” or “Song of Solomon.” But “Home” is also a lesser novel — still powerful, still moving, but not her best work.
In addition to her reputation for gorgeous sentences, Morrison is known for a certain brutality in her plotting, and this wrenching novel is no exception. But “Home” also brims with affection and optimism. The gains here are hard won, but honestly earned, and sweet as love.
Ultimately, the impression with which “Home” leaves us is of a novel that, like the town it encircles, is “much less than enough.” Or maybe it’s that the book seems tired, as if it were something we’ve read before. Either way, it leaves us wanting, without the discovery, the recognition of how stories can enlarge us, that defines Morrison’s most vivid work.
At just 145 pages, this little book about a Korean War vet doesn’t boast the Gothic swell of her masterpiece, “Beloved” (1987), or the luxurious surrealism of her most recent novel, “A Mercy” (2008). But the diminutive size and straightforward style of “Home” are deceptive. This scarily quiet tale packs all the thundering themes Morrison has explored before. She’s never been more concise, though, and that restraint demonstrates the full range of her power.
Will you be reading her latest book?