Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.
Possibly one of the best known and most talented Black authors, Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison, was an American author, essayist, book editor, and college professor. She was born and grew up in Lorain, Ohio. She was the second of four children of a working class family. Her parents had difficult childhoods, with her father having witnessed a lynching of two Black businessmen who lived on his street. It was a very traumatic experience for her father, so he ended up moving to Ohio where there were more industrial jobs being offered. When Toni was about two years old, their landlord set fire to their house for non-payment of rent. They were home at the time. They laughed at the incident which she later described "as how her family kept their integrity and claimed their own life".
Morrison read frequently the works of Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy. She took the Baptismal name of Anthony, which led to her nickname, Toni. She attended Lorain High School where she was on the debate team, participated in drama productions, and assisted with the yearbook. She then graduated from Howard University in English and the classics. Continuing her education, she completed her Master's Degree in two years from Cornell University, writing her thesis on Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner.
After graduating from Cornell, she settled in Texas, where she taught at Texas Southern University.
She has received about every prestigious award for her writing, which includes......The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved (which was made into a 1998 film), Jazz, Love, and A Mercy. Her highest honor was in 2012 when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
I chose this book to read because I had heard Barak Obama say that this was one of his favorite books. I had also read another one of Toni Morrison books and thought it was good, but difficult to understand. I found this book difficult to read and understand. Usually, I can read a book in one or 2 settings, but this book took me about 4 attempts to get through. It seems to be about the maturing of a black man in the early to mid part of the last century. Included is a lot of traditional black supperstition and lifestyle. It seems to move somewhat slowly during the first 2/3's of the book with most of the action taking place in the last 1/3 or 1/4 of the book. It does give the point of view of how blacks in the south dealt with prejudice against them at the time of the novel. It is not a pleasant book to read, however one can learn a lot from reading it all the way through. I can recommend it as part of a learning process.