Thursday, May 31, 2012

Literature as history

Guest review by Shavia Westmoreland, an English Major at Hampton University in the US.

Title: Song of Solomon
Author: Toni Morrison
Publisher: Penguin Books, (1987, 337 pages)
Price:  (Please check for prices of different editions)

Literature can be the eyes into history.  Song of Solomon by Nobel Peace Prize winner Toni Morrison is no exception. This novel explores the history of 1970’s America and beyond through the eyes of common characters from the time period. The story is centered on Milkman Dead, the son of wealthy landlord Macon Dead Jr. and mother Ruth Foster, also of a wealthy background.  Milkman grows up in an urban town in Michigan, living a privileged, and consequently, unfulfilled life with his family and best friend Guitar Bains. One day he is informed by his father that his aunt Pilate holds a treasure of gold, which sends him on a journey into the southern United States and self-discovery. Along the novel’s exploration of Milkman’s journey and his life experiences, the reader is exposed to numerous areas of history and philosophy such as the slavery and civil rights, women’s independence, the force of ancestral history, the power of wealth and respect on human decisions, and the process of self-realization.

With beautiful usage of language, motifs, symbolism, and themes, Song of Solomon engages the mind with questions of the impact of heritage and the past on the individuals of the present. Targeted at no particular age or background, Song of Solomon is a novel to be read a multiple of times, providing new messages and questions with every single turn of the page.

A copy of Song of Solomon will be available soon at the Lincoln Corner at KL Library, on 1 Jalan Raja. The Lincoln Corner collection is constantly refurbished, so please send any recommendations for new acquisition (fiction or non-fiction) to