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Sula Paperback – June 8, 2004
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“Exemplary. . . . The essential mysteries of death and sex, friendship and poverty are expressed with rare economy.” —Newsweek
“In characters like Sula, Toni Morrison’s originality and power emerge.” —The Nation
“Enchanting. . . . Powerful.” —Chicago Daily News
“Toni Morrison is not just an important contemporary novelist but a major figure in our national literature.” —The New York Review of Books
“Sula is one of the most beautifully written, sustained works of fiction I have read in some time. . . . [Morrison] is a major talent.” —Elliot Anderson, Chicago Tribune
“As mournful as a spiritual and as angry as a clenched fist . . . written in language so pure and resonant that it makes you ache.” —Playboy
“In the first ranks of our living novelists.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Toni Morrison’s gifts are rare: the re-creation of the black experience in America with both artistry and authenticity.” —Library Journal
“Should be read and passed around by book-lovers everywhere.” —Los Angeles Free Press
From the Inside Flap
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Years later, Nel decides to conform to the life that society expects of her as loyal wife and mother. Sula, on the other hand, leads an entirely unconventional life, which is evident when she returns to the Bottom after leaving for 10 years following Nel’s wedding. Sula’s return was seen as a return of evil by the people of the Bottom. As Sula’s return came “accompanied by a plague of robins,” (89) the robins became a sign of evil to the people. The news that Sula had put her grandmother in a home and her involvement in interracial relationships secured the towns view of her as evil. The ending of her and Nel’s friendship, however, came as a result of Sula’s affair with Nel’s husband, who then left Nel.
Nel blames Sula for the ending of their friendship, as well as the destruction of her marriage and confronts Sula when visiting after hearing of Sula’s sickness. Sula reveals to her that just because Nel thought she was good, doesn't mean she was the good one. She says “How you know?...About who was good? How you know it was you?” (146). Nel’s encounter with Eva secures this notion of Nel’s skewed perception of her own goodness. As Eva neglects to recognize that Nel is not Sula because they are the same, saying “You. Sula. What’s the difference?” (168). Morrison is making a statement about the ambiguity of good and evil. Though Sula was technically responsible for the death of the child, Nel was no better, feeling pleasure watching the child be engulfed by the surrounding water.
Ultimately, Sula refers to the question “what determines good and evil?” through the genius characterization of Nel Wright and deep description of the life of Sula Peace. I rate this book 5 stars and would definitely recommend reading this thought-provoking book.
This is a story of friendship, family and race relations that is FILLED with metaphors, symbolism and Allegories. One interesting focus of the novel is really on women being women and not subscribing to social norms or a certain expectation. Most of the women in the novel wanted to have some element of control. This control was expressed in various forms (i.e. sexually, maternal, friend...etc.)
There are many symbols to keep the reader engaged in driving the ultimate message of this novel home; from the patterned usage of the number "4" to the "plague" of Robins when something pivotal is about to happen and the overwhelming symbolism of fire and water.
If you love a novel filled with hidden meanings, "Sula" will not disappoint.
This is the third novel by Toni Morrison that I have read thus far. I have read "Song of Solomon", "The Bluest Eye" and now "Sula", in that order. Thus far my favorite is "The Bluest Eye". These novels revolve around African American lifestyle issues. Although obviously clearly extremely intelligent and well educated, there is a good deal of street nomenclature that is often vulgar. I suppose this makes the novels more realistic as reflecting life within some communities. However, speaking as a reader, it does not always appeal to me.
I purchased this book on Kindle and also an Audiobook, narrated by the author. I really valued having a chance to hear Toni Morrison narrate the story, presumably as she wants it read and heard. I did the same with "The Bluest Eye" and really enjoyed that experience.
In the event a reader is interested in a somewhat similar novel authored at a slightly earlier time for purpose of comparing and contrasting, one might consider "The Street" by Ann Petry. Ann Poetry also authored an excellent non fiction biography of Harriet Tubman. I feel Ann Petry's is well worth reading and being familiar with.
In summary, I like this novel a lot, but with reservations. I continue to be a fan of Toni Morrison and have already purchased another novel and Audiobook, "Tar Baby". My personal favorite novel thus far of Toni Morrison continues to be her first published novel "The Bluest Eye". Thank You...
Top international reviews
There are touchstones about the way black women are viewed throughout the book. The scene on the train where Nel's mother smiles at the white guard and in doing so draws hatred to her and humiliates her daughter, who suddenly sees her as made of custard - a beautiful description in the context of the scene, is one of the most powerful and poignant in the book.
The complexities of Nel's feelings for Sula are also beautifully described, but beyond that it feels too tiny a story especially when compared to the fabulous "Song of Solomon". It's bleak and it's painful, but it doesn't push the boundaries even of the small town that contains it. The story happens and life carries on (undocumented and perhaps unaffected) outside it.
Questo romanzo non si discosta da altri suoi che avevo letto: l’Occhio più Azzurro, il Canto di Salomone e Jazz, perché anche in Sula la prosa della Morrison, sempre guidata da una penna talentuosa, si muove a cavallo di rito e visione.
Non è, quindi, una prosa realistica, ma in questo suo immaginario sono ben presenti la denuncia sociale, il violento razzismo, il desiderio di emancipazione e di integrazione (o, quantomeno, di comprensione), e la ricerca di un’identità perduta o mai esistita.
Tutti i suoi personaggi, in un perfetto equilibrio tra donne e uomini, sono meravigliosamente caratterizzati e si muovono quasi ognuno di loro avesse un’aura ben visibile che illumina e conferisce dignità, anche se si tratta di matti o bevitori o emarginati fra gli emarginati.
La Morrison non so per quale motivo non sia più letta come meriterebbe; mi sembra sia stata un po’ dimenticata. Forse è solo una mia impressione, e spero sia così, perché siamo di fronte ad una scrittrice non solo di elevata umanità, ma anche di grandissima personalità letteraria.