"Toni Morrison stands as one of the most powerful and influential voices in American Literature—not just for her command of language, narrative, and character, but also for her keen understanding of the literary landscape she wrote in. Morrison’s novels provide intimately layered depictions of Black life, love, and community, and her work is oft regarded as exemplary of 'authentic' depictions of blackness. In Playing in the Dark she turns that lens around to dissect how whiteness itself is constructed through, and in opposition to blackness in American literature. If you were looking to read some of Morrison’s non-fiction, or to learn about the history of race in American literature, this book is an excellent place to start.
Morrison’s voice and wisdom remains with us. May she rest in power."
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Beloved and Jazz now gives us a learned, stylish, and immensely persuasive work of literary criticism that promises to change the way we read American literature even as it opens a new chapter in the American dialogue on race. Toni Morrison's brilliant discussions of the "Africanist" presence in the fiction of Poe, Melville, Cather, and Hemingway leads to a dramatic reappraisal of the essential characteristics of our literary tradition. She shows how much the themes of freedom and individualism, manhood and innocence, depended on the existence of a black population that was manifestly unfree--and that came to serve white authors as embodiments of their own fears and desires. Written with the artistic vision that has earned Toni Morrison a pre-eminent place in modern letters, Playing in the Dark will be avidly read by Morrison admirers as well as by students, critics, and scholars of American literature. "By going for the American literary jugular...she places her arguments...at the very heart of contemporary public conversation about what it is to be authentically and originally American. [She] boldly...reimagines and remaps the possibility of America." --Chicago Tribune "Toni Morrison is the closest thing the country has to a national writer." The New York Times Book Review