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Paradise Paperback – 25 Mar 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (25 Mar. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099768216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099768210
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She is the author of many novels, including The Bluest Eye, Beloved (made into a major film), Paradise and Love. She has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize for her fiction.

Product Description

Amazon Review

"They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time. No need to hurry out here. They are 17 miles from a town which has 90 miles between it and any other. Hiding places will be plentiful in the Convent, but there is time and the day has just begun." So begins Paradise, Toni Morrison's first novel since winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993. As one would expect from the author of such brilliantly imagined novels as Song of Solomon, Beloved and Jazz, Morrison's Paradise is ambitious, political, deeply spiritual and peopled with characters as complex as they are unforgettable. Time is fluid in the universe of this particular novel; though set in 1976, Morrison travels easily between eras, taking the reader back in time to the founding of Ruby, an all-black township in Oklahoma, at the end of World War II, then further back to the establishment of its predecessor, Haven, which parallels the story of Exodus: a band of former slaves wanders the Oklahoma territory in search of a homeland. Overlying the strong sense of character and place that imbues each page is a touch of the supernatural--ghost children skitter through the halls of an abandoned Catholic girl's school and "unseen friends" visit lonely women by night.

Even as Morrison deftly limns the history of the town and its inhabitants, she lays the foundation for the conflict brewing in the present-day story: A new minister has come to town, bringing with him a whiff of the politics that engulfed that era--civil rights, student uprisings, rioting in the streets--activities which speak to the restlessness of the town's youth. Meanwhile, 17 miles away at the former girls' school nicknamed "the Convent," a small group of unconventional women have moved in. Their stories, told in individual chapters bearing their names, are also stories of exile, exodus and eventual homecoming. For the men of Ruby, however, these women represent everything that is dangerous about the outside world and as the sanctity of Ruby's traditions begin to crumble, nine men go on a deadly hunt.

As always, Morrison is not afraid to explore the relations between the races or the genders and she is particularly adept at creating characters who, though frequently not likable, are always sympathetic. Paradise is a book you'll want to read more than once and each time you'll find something new to haunt and amaze you. -- Amazon.com

Review

"It is a tour de force of writing" (Independent on Sunday)

"Deeply serious and unexpectedly beautiful" (Harpers and Queen)

"Compassionate, violent and magical" (Good Book Guide)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
I could hardly stop reading this book. Toni Morrison really is an amazing writer - it almost felt as if someone was singing this book to me as I read it. I was interested to read the comments in the other reviews about the ending. I am a bit of a 'hard to please' reader. I like to know what happens to my characters, but I really don't like it when authors string together improbable plot twists to make it all 'make sense', or scrunch years into the final chapter to give a sense of what happened next. I think Morrison, however, gets the mixture just right in the ending of Paradise. It closes on a mystery, but gives you distinct clues about what happens to the crucial characters. How you interpret the clues is entirely up to you and the beliefs you hold. Fantastic - she includes us in the process of creation at a crucial moment. We make this book ourselves, as the men and women of Ruby made their worlds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Mansfield on 29 April 2014
Format: Paperback
Such a compelling read that kept me immersed in its pages and world that it was hard to come up for breath. A tough book to review as I just feel like gushing over it enthusiastically! I haven't read a book by Morrison that I didn't like but I did find this one quite different. It wasn't so raw nor did it deal with such uncomfortable subjects as the other books I've read by her so far that it did make a unexpected, but pleasant, change for me. Each chapter tells the story from a different woman's point of view (though always from the third person) and this is one of my personal favourite devices in storytelling. It is a story of race, as it tells the story of a black town founded on the principles that many original black towns, after slavery, were themselves colour conscience and this specific group of ex-slaves and free men (and their family's) were very dark black, searching to settle down but refused entry to a light-skinned black town. So they found Ruby, a place that disregards "white" ways but has a special grudge against the "light-skinned" of their own race. They find their nemesis in a convent house located outside of their town which is inhabited by a rag-tag of abandoned, forlorn but independent women of varying races which the reader is never made aware of except that one is white. The book starts off with a group of the townsmen descending upon the convent women and shooting the "white one" first. Then we go back in time and the whole story of both the town's founding and present state along with how the various women came and ended up staying at the old convent came to such an ominous state suvh as where we first find them.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition
The book opens early one morning in 1976, with nine men from the town of Ruby (with a population of 360) assaulting a former Convent which lies some 19 miles outside the town. The men justify this assault on the convent and its female inhabitants as a way of protecting Ruby, “the one all black town worth the pain.” The 1960s and 1970s has been a confusing time, racially, politically and generationally for the town. With rumours of witchcraft and abortions happening at the convent the townspeople find a scapegoat for all that ails them in the shape of the nonconformists and fugitives who inhabit the convent.
The story then weaves its way back and forth through time relating the story of the people and origins of the town and how the women of the former convent found their way there. Through these elements and the third person prism of points of view from many different characters, the reader is lead toward the conclusion of the events on that morning of 1976 nineteen miles outside the town of Ruby.

“They shoot the white girl first”

This is a powerful and stunning opening line that has the reader asking a plethora of questions before they move onto the second line: Why is the woman shot? Was she killed or injured? Why is her ethnicity mentioned?
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a first-time Toni Morrison reader, I was prepared to be confused in my attempts to follow her storyline. And to be honest, initially I was. However, all became clear as I began to read Chapter Two.
The plot was engaging and the characters interesting.
I am still (again being honest, though I am a little embarrassed about it) confused about what happens to the women in the end! Or perhaps that is the point?
This would be a great novel to read with a book club so that everyone could share their ideas about this.
A great read, highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
I haven't read Morrison before, and I'm slightly wary that I've started here, with what is almost surely (such is the exemplary quality of the prose, the themes, the style, the control, the compassion, the tension, the intellect) one of her best books. If there are better among her works, then she more than deserves that Nobel prize.

Paradise is, of course, a story of race. From it's explosive opening line ("They shoot the white girl first.") this is clear, even if one were not more generally aware of Morrison and her work. What unfolds is a story of two communities: the racically black town of Ruby, about to be riven by a conflict between it's youngers and elders, and a neighbouring community of women living in "the convent", named for the building's previous use. Through eight chapters, each bearing a woman's name, the story of the town and the convent, and how the separate women each come to live in it, and the tensions between the two, emerge, flinging the reader firmly to the immense detonation in the novel's final pages.

Paradise is certainly one of the most powerful novels I've read. Primarily it is about tensions, conflicts: between gender, race, age, communities, time, even nature and humankind. It is compassionate, sometimes sharpy brutal, infused with history and poetry, and one of the most completely moving books I've come across. All reactions to books should be to some extent visceral rather than mental, purely instinctive rather than rational, and this appealed to me in those terms: like all my favourite novels, I can't explain why it draws me other to say: it struck me as a force, entire of itself.
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