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Sula [Paperback]

Toni Morrison
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Jun 1991
A novel set in a small town in Ohio, focusing on two girls, Nell and Sula, both black, both poor who share their dreams until Sula escapes to live a vagrant city life for ten years. When she returns, the bond of their friendship is broken.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (7 Jun 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033030500X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330305006
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 775,475 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

Toni Morrison's highly acclaimed novel Sula is as gripping on audiotape as it is on paper. The Nobel Prize-winning writer narrates the unabridged version of the book in a rich, soothing voice that mesmerizes listeners with its relaxed and methodical cadence. Sula revolves around the relationship between two little girls growing up in a poor, black neighbourhood nestled high in the hilltops. "The Bottom", as the barrio came to be known, is brimming with eccentric residents but sadly deprived of human warmth (the town actually takes pride in celebrating National Suicide Day). However, out of this bitter, abrasive environment grows a beautiful friendship between Sula and Nel. Their shared secrets and dreams blossom through childhood, but their special bond suffers after the two separate. Sula leaves the Bottom to conquer the unknown cities of America, while Nel becomes a homebody, settling down as a wife and mother. When Sula returns to her hometown, she feels like a stranger; she repels everyone, even the only true friend she ever knew. Morrison's vocal range evokes an extraordinary atmosphere of survival in a harsh and unforgiving world. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.


"Extravagantly beautiful...Enormously, achingly alive...A howl of love and rage, playful and funny as well as hard and bitter" (New York Times)

"Morrison explores the mythic power of femininity in a poor and isolated rural black community where women rule as mothers, warriors, witches and story-tellers... One of the most compelling writers at work today" (The Times)

"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) --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
In that place, where they tore the nightshade and blackberry patches from their roots to make room for the Medallion City Golf Course, there was once a neighborhood. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Written in 1973, Toni Morrison's second novel explores themes of life, love, sex, and death, contrasting Sula Peace and Nel Wright, best friends from childhood who grow up to lead totally different adult lives. Living in the Bottom, an ironically named, poverty-stricken black community in the hills of Medallion, Ohio, Sula and Nel, opposites in personality, share their thoughts, feelings, and secrets, some of them of life-and-death importance. Part of a family with a long history of violence, Sula believes she owes nothing to anyone except herself, while Nel's strict mother imposes limits and insists on her adherence to social values.

Though Sula eventually escapes the Bottom to attend college and travel from Georgia to California, Michigan to Louisiana, she always does what is expedient, having no real values or ambitions, other than her own pleasure. When Sula returns to the Bottom in 1937, the stable Nel is a wife and mother trying to keep her family fed and clothed, a woman who no longer has anything in common with Sula, though she becomes Sula's innocent victim. Morrison develops Sula's character through her dysfunctional relationships and selfish actions, showing her connections to her family's past but never blaming it for her later, abhorrent behavior.

The novel is a series of cycles and follows a circular structure, opening in 1965, as whites decide they want the Bottom land for golf courses and hilltop views and the blacks who have always lived there move to the valley with its more fertile land. The cyclical nature of life is also borne out in the lives of the characters, especially that of Sula, who escapes Bottom but returns inevitably to the community of her mother and grandmother.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The central themes that Toni Morrison tackles in this work are relevant today and wonderfully executed, although very dark and in rough territory. Friendship, death (of more than the physical kind), a hard life, and little regard for morality comes across in this novel. Her primary characters are women, featuring her as an important writer in any Women's Lit class worth its salt. She holds a mirror, making us, forcing us to look, to reinvaulate American Society, to learn from our past so we do not repeat it in our future. However, younger readers should not be allowed this, because the language is harsh and there is some descriptive sexual scenes.

Morrison in detail develops the relationship between Sula and Nel, and show, in this short novel, how each move into different paths and how each must cope with the other's decisions. Sula becomes a seductress whilst Nel becomes a housewife. This woman who so loved Nel she cut off part of her finger to protect her later destroys Nel's family. Sula finds it difficult to stay within proper boundaries, apt to be irresponsible, whereas Nel counteracts her. Morrison also shows the product of the slave mentality: black men who did not feel responsible for their children. She keeps this consistently thruout her works. In the slave nightmarish world, black men did not have to provide for them, because that was the owner's job, and because the white man treated them as stock the black's family structure suffered very extensive damage which that is reflected even today in present society. The men would, when they wanted too, just disappear (Jude and BoyBoy here, Paul D in Beloved). The sins of the men are very great indeed.

Shadrack, who you find in the opening section, plays an important part with his National Suicide Day (January 3).
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5.0 out of 5 stars love it 30 May 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
fantastic book full of imagination. Toni Morrison never disappoints. There is no one else quite like her. A powerful writer.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, haunting 4 May 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a complex novel, despite the ease of its reading. The novel isn't just about a friendship between two deprived black girls in Ohio: there is always something sinister lurking under the writing, in the community, in people's relationships, and the reader is left peering at something beneath the water that never quite takes shape, wondering what is going on beneath the surface. Its quite depressing in places, and brutal to read in terms of how it is preoccupied with definitions of evil and peoples motivations, but it is beautifully written and crafted. Well worth reading.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If any one has every lost a best friend either by leaving or being left for the sake of betterment then this book will help them find the compassion to forgive before it is too late. If anyone has ever left a bad place or been left in a bad place this book will help them to understand bitterness can also nourish.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep, thought provoking and excellent! 20 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Sula is a complicated novel which explores the themes of friendship, identity and the relationships between Blacks and Whites. The language used by Morrison is lyrical in places and the characters presented are complex. However, i would reccommend this boko for the serious reader who can appreciate the depth of the characters and story.
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