Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison


Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Author: Toni Morrison

Title: Song of Solomon

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1977

Number of Pages: 337

Geographical Setting: Detroit, MI

Time Period: 1910’s to 1960’s

Plot Summary: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, is the story of the Dead family led by local Detroit businessman, Macon Dead together with his wife Ruth Foster Dead and their three children, First Corinthians, Magdalena (Lena), and Macon, Jr.  Told in third person from the perspective of Macon Dead and Macon, Jr. we are pulled into the current life of Macon, Jr. as a child and as he grows up through the 1950’s and 60’s.  Macon Dead, the father, serves as the history teller bringing us back to the past through his stories as he remembers his life and what brought him to present day.  Morrison uses eccentric secondary characters such as Empire State, to tell us even more about the secrets of Macon family, their complicated lives and societal roles both within the family and as African-Americans, throughout the novel.  Song of Solomon is thought-provoking, introspective, and imaginative in its storytelling both for the characters and the reader.

Subject Headings: Fiction & Biography; African Americans; Fathers and sons; Family relationships; Family histories; Heritage; Racial identity; Self-discovery; Social classes; Michigan Midwest (U.S.); 20th century; Literary; Domestic; Generational; Sociological; Married Father; Businessman

Appeal: engrossing, thought-provoking, imaginative, introspective, historical, African-American, eccentric, urban, rural, race relations, civil rights movement, morality, familial roles and life, ancestral, changes, award-winning, National Book Critics Circle Award, lyrical writing, melancholy

3 terms that best describe this book: engrossing, African-American literature, thought-provoking

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White by Henry Weincek tells the historical story of the Hairston family and their inspiring rise from lives of repressive slavery to middle-class America in WWII.

Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South is a compiliation of real-life interviews and stories of segregation in the south in the 1950’s and 1960’s and how families and people overcame their struggles to create a sense of normalcy in their lives.  The book was compiled by the Behind the Veil Project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past by Henry Louis Gates is companion volume to the landmark PBS documentary African American Lives.  The book follows these 19 families as they trace their roots and learn about not only their ancestry and culture, but also themselves through introspective realizations.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston; the poignant and moving story of an African-American woman in the 1930’s searching for her ancestry while learning about herself throughout the journey.  Hurston tells the story with rhythmic language through a series of formats in one volume.

Beloved by Toni Morrison tells the rich story of Sethe, a former slave, now freed, who is haunted by the ghosts of her past of not only her troubled life but also the mysterious nature of her baby’s death.  This is written in Morrison’s unique style of lyrical complexity

The Color Purple by Alice Walker is the classic African American story of two sisters from the poor, rural south and their journey through 30 years of life starting in the 1900’s and taking us through the 1940’s.  Walker delivers the story as a novel told through the letters these sisters write to each other.

-Jennifer Peterson

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