Of the Morrison novels I’ve read (and I have not read them all, yet!) this is my favorite. It is an absolute work of genius, full stop. Stunning from the first page to the last.
I find it hard to explain Morrison’s genius. Yes, she has incomparable technical skill – her sentences are gorgeous. But more than that she sets a mood, by setting a place, by creating a cast of incredible, surreally lifelike characters. Milkman Dead, the character at the center here, is at once chased and seeking, infinitely related and also inscrutable. This depth of understanding and nuance Morrison fits into a book of such modest length is, I really have no other word for this, magic.
Morrison’s second novel. Like every one of her works that I have read, it’s a masterpiece. I really have nothing new to say about one of America’s greatest novelists except to say that what stuck me about Sula was how fully formed the characters are, even those whose appearances are brief, and how through the development of these complex characters Morrison not only tells her story, but gives you a deep sense of what the Bottom is like. The entire novel is a study in economy of language – Morrison fits so much into a pretty slim novel – but you’ll notice she spends almost all her time on her characters, and not on the physical description of the Bottom in doing so she shows us that a community is a collection of individuals, complex, fraught, individuals, as much as it is a place.