This is Morrison's first novel. The seed of the story was planted in childhood, when she heard an African-American friend complaining that she wanted blue eyes. She started it at Howard University, and completed it in snowy Syracuse, New York, while her children slept at night. The story of Pecola, a young African-American girl desperate for blue eyes, showcases Morrison's power as a writer.
Song of Solomon was Morrison's third novel, and her first written from a male character's point of view. The hauntingly beautiful story of "Milkman" won the National Book Critics Circle Award and established Morrison as a true vanguard on the American literary scene.
When Beloved appeared in 1987, most reviews hailed it as a work of genius, and also used words like "chilling," "haunting," "terrible beauty." Morrison got the idea for the plot from a news clipping about Margaret Garner, a captured slave who murdered her own child rather than have the child be returned to slavery. The frightening narrative is rendered unforgettable in Morrison's words.
The last novel Morrison wrote before the Nobel announcement, Jazz is a journey through 1920s Harlem. It weaves through the lives of its characters like the riffs of a jazz composition, and is equally rewarding. You might want to check out the audio book of this one - Morrison's rich, gorgeous reading of her own words is accompanied by period jazz music.
Despite a shelf full of the world's top literary prizes, Morrison is a writer at heart, and refuses to rest on her laurels. This book, her eighth novel, is her personal favorite. Critics knocked the book when it came out, but Morrison has a Nobel Prize and they don't, so we're going to side with her on this one.
No truly authoritative biographies of Morrison have yet been published. However, Morrison has given many interviews over the years to allow readers a look into the philosophies that inspire her work. This collection of interviews reveals Morrison's personal side.