12. Beloved by Toni Morrison and books inspired by Morrison’s Great American Novel

Today Chelsey and Sara are chatting about Beloved by Toni Morrison. This American masterpiece and 1988 Pulitzer winner tells the story of Sethe, a woman who escaped from slavery to find freedom for herself and her children, only to be haunted by the traumas of her past. It’s a story of motherhood, womanhood, freedom, and redemption, and Morrison’s genius and language are incomparable. Today’s discussion includes:

  • Sara sharing her experience with teaching this book and why it’s the perfect book to bring into the classroom [4:10]
  • Reading Beloved symbolically and being okay with not understanding everything [10:30]
  • The power of repetition and leitmotifs in the novel [22:34]
  • Each of us sharing why we love Toni Morrison and why this book might just be THE Great American Novel [36:03]

Plus, as always, we’re recommending six contemporary books to pair with our classic including a heartbreaking work of middle grade fiction and a debut novel from an award-winning nonfiction writer.

Shop the pairings: https://bookshop.org/shop/novelpairings

Resources mentioned:

The Stacks Episode 60 [27:27]

BBC World Books Toni Morrison Interview [30:28]

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Today’s episode is brought to you by Libro.fm, the only audiobook company that allows you to purchase audiobooks directly from your favorite indie bookstore. You can get THREE audiobooks for $15 by clicking this link or by using code NOVELPAIRINGS at checkout.

Chelsey’s Pairings:

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward [46:18]

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes [52:39]

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora [57:53]

Sara’s Pairings:

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates [42:48]

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson [48:59]

The Mothers by Brit Bennett [55:29]

Chelsey’s Pick of the Week: Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am 

Sara’s Pick of the Week: The 1619 Project

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