Review

Review: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

“Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

Genre: Domestic Fiction

Pages: 354

Published: 1977

Rate: 3.5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Song of Solomon is a work of outstanding beauty and power, whose story covers the years from the 1930’s to the 1960’s in America. At its centre is Macon Dead Jr, the son of a wealthy black property owner, who has been brought up to revere the white world. Macon learns about the tyranny of white society from his friend Guitar, though he is more concerned to escape the tyranny of his father. So while Guitar joins a terrorist group of poor blacks, Macon goes home to the South, lured by tales of buried family treasure. His journey leads to the discovery of something more valuable than gold, his past. Yet the truth about his origins and his true self is not fully revealed to Macon until he and Guitar meet once again in powerful, and deadly confrontation.

My Take

Having sat with my thoughts a little bit after reading Song of Solomon, I have come to appreciate the book more. I still have my issues with it and I do think it could have been a shorter book.

Song of Solomon is a book set in the 1930s following complex characters in their journey of self-discovery and finding their roots. Toni Morrison’s writing in this book is much different from The Bluest Eye and Sula and I did struggle to get into it for the first 70 pages, but the minute I did I was able to I managed to enjoy the book. The characters are vibrant and quite flawed which I loved, and are distinctly well written and appreciated that because the book has a whole cast of characters who would have been easily forgettable if they weren’t as vividly described as they were.

In as much as the story follows Milkman, it is the women who steal the show,and to be honest who made me stick it out with the book. I mostly loved reading about Pilate and I would have loved more of her. Her, and the vigilante group. I felt like they were introduced to us and then we were left hanging.

“Infinite possibilities and enormous responsibilities stretched out before him, but he was not prepared to take advantage of the former, or accept the burden of the latter.”

Toni Morrison plays a lot with the act of allusion and illusion in Song of Solomon, which I found quite interesting. There was a lot of shocking moments and questionable relationships. There are scenes that are written that I found evocative, both I a good way and an uncomfortable way. There are also mundane scenes that are described in such a way I was awed. Case in point, the description of the dark. The case of identity and what is in a name is something that plays a big role in the book that I also found interesting.

Now, I did think that this book didn’t need to be this long. There are chapters that were too long and didn’t need to be in the book (hunting scenes!) that I found very boring. Also, the chapters in this book are so damn long that I genuinely got book fatigue from reading them.

That being said, it was an okay read for me. I enjoyed some parts, others not so much. I would say, read it if you are keen but it wouldn’t be the first Toni Morrison book that I would recommend.

Have you read Song of Solomon? What did you think about it?

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