Home

by Toni Morrison

Home

Hardcover, 144 pages, Knopf, List Price: $24 | purchase

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Book Summary

Embittered Korean War veteran Frank Money struggles against trauma and racism to rescue his medically abused sister and work through identity-shattering memories.

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Awards and Recognition

8 weeks on NPR Hardcover Fiction Bestseller List

NPR stories about Home

Best Books Of 2012

Finders Keepers: 2012's Books To Hang On To

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison's deceptively slight, tightly composed novel Home is a visceral and highly accessible parable of a prodigal son set in the mid-20th century, pre-civil rights South, where African-Americans were still treated, as several characters note, "like dogs. Change that. They treat dogs better." Her hero, haunted by his recent military service in Korea, is called back to the Georgia hometown he'd hoped he'd left for good to rescue his beloved younger sister. In

Critics' Lists: Summer 2012

Sail Into Summer With Novel Picks From Alan Cheuse

Toni Morrison's idiosyncratic short novel Home is full of lush, lyrical, memorable language. The book takes place in that odd time just after the end of the Korean War, when an understandably disturbed veteran named Frank Money comes marching, stumbling sometimes, toward his Lotus, Ga., home. The narrative rhythms, and narrative strategy, seem quite eccentric, if not erratic. But sequences directly out of memory and short chapters that focus on Money's little

Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Home

Chapter One

They rose up like men. We saw them. Like men they stood.

We shouldn't have been anywhere near that place. Like most farmland outside Lotus, Georgia, this one here had plenty of scary warning signs. The threats hung from wire mesh fences with wooden stakes every fifty or so feet. But when we saw a crawl space that some animal had dug — a coyote maybe, or a coon dog — we couldn't resist. Just kids we were. The grass was shoulder high for her and waist high for me so, looking out for snakes, we crawled through it on our bellies. The reward was worth the harm grass juice and clouds of gnats did to our eyes, because there right in front of us, about fifty yards off, they stood like men. Their raised hooves crashing and striking, their manes tossing back from wild white eyes. They bit each other like dogs but when they stood, reared up on their hind legs, their forelegs around the withers of the other, we held our breath in wonder. One was rust-colored, the other deep black, both sunny with sweat. The neighs were not as frightening as the silence following a kick of hind legs into the lifted lips of the opponent. Nearby, colts and mares, indifferent, nibbled grass or looked away. Then it stopped. The rust-colored one dropped his head and pawed the ground while the winner loped off in an arc, nudging the mares before him.

As we elbowed back through the grass looking for the dug-out place, avoiding the line of parked trucks beyond, we lost our way. Although it took forever to re-sight the fence, neither of us panicked until we heard voices, urgent but low. I grabbed her arm and put a finger to my lips. Never lifting our heads, just peeping through the grass, we saw them pull a body from a wheelbarrow and throw it into a hole already waiting. One foot stuck up over the edge and quivered, as though it could get out, as though with a little effort it could break through the dirt being shoveled in. We could not see the faces of the men doing the burying, only their trousers; but we saw the edge of a spade drive the jerking foot down to join the rest of itself. When she saw that black foot with its creamy pink and mud-streaked sole being whacked into the grave, her whole body began to shake. I hugged her shoulders tight and tried to pull her trembling into my own bones because, as a brother four years older, I thought I could handle it. The men were long gone and the moon was a cantaloupe by the time we felt safe enough to disturb even one blade of grass and move on our stomachs, searching for the scooped-out part under the fence. When we got home we expected to be whipped or at least scolded for staying out so late, but the grown-ups did not notice us. Some disturbance had their attention.

Since you're set on telling my story, whatever you think and whatever you write down, know this: I really forgot about the burial. I only remembered the horses. They were so beautiful. So brutal. And they stood like men.

From Home by Toni Morrison. Copyright 2012 by Toni Morrison. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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