Black Lit Network

99 Novels & Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is rightly celebrated as one of our greatest writers. Her major novels link to dozens of other works by African American authors, and serve as a useful gateway to black novels.

This visualization explains how 93 novels can be linked to six novels by Toni Morrison.

Six Morrison’s Novels

We categorized six novels by Morrison into four categories.

  • Neo-Slave Narratives: Beloved
  • Narratives about Black women and girls: The Bluest Eye & Sula
  • Narratives about Black men and boys: Song of Solomon
  • Narratives about Romantic relationships: Jazz & Tar Baby

Neo Slave Narratives

Morrison and several other black novelists have produced neo-slave narratives – modern and contemporary novels that focus on aspects of slavery.

Morrison’s Beloved, inspired by the life of Margaret Garner, centers around an Ohio family who’s haunted by a vengeful ghost. Other neo-slave narratives include Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage, Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada, Sherley Anne Williams’s Dessa Rose, Alex Haley’s Roots, Octavia. Butler’s Kindred, and Edward P. Jones’s The Known World.

These types of works reconfigure conventions of slave narrative in order to expose the horrors and lingering consequences of enslavement.

Novels about Girls and Women

The Bluest Eye follows the story of Pecola Breedlove who believes she’ll be beautiful if only she has blue eyes. On the other hand, Sula, follows the coming of age of two best friends Sula Peace and Nel Wright as they navigate childhood and later adulthood.

A wide range of black writers highlight the experiences of girls and women like Sister Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever, Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones, and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.

Novels about Boys and Men

Morrison’s Song of Solomon joins many other works highlighting the experiences of black boys and men. Morrison’s novel follows Macon “Milkman” Dead III from birth to adulthood as he traces his family history from the urban north to the rural South.

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Richard Wright’s Native Son, James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle, and Colson Whitehead’s Nickel Boys also present the experiences of black boys and men.

Novels about Romance and Relationships

Morrison also delves into works that focus on romantic relationships whether failed or successful. Her novel Jazz deals with a love triangle between Violet, Joe, and Dorcas, and her novel Tar Baby relationship between Son and Jadine.

Several other novels, including Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Terry McMillan’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back, James Baldwin’s Giovanni's Room, and Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage.

Explore the collection of 99 Novels

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