Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


Song of Solomon (1977)

by Toni Morrison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,741122636 (4.03)1 / 537
Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family's origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black wo… (more)
1970s (30)
AP Lit (281)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

Group TopicMessagesLast Message 
 Fine Press Forum: Thornwillow Press - Song of Solomon106 unread / 106slightlyemo, March 2023

» See also 537 mentions

English (111)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (120)
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
Sublime. Took me a chapter to get into it, but after that it was really compelling. The life of a boy that grows to be a feckless man, discovering his roots, and maybe some introspection. But that doesn't do the depth, the clever (but not too clever) plotting, the beautiful depictions of characters, the political heft... Left me in awe of Toni Morrison's craft. ( )
  thisisstephenbetts | Nov 25, 2023 |
This was my first time to read a Toni Morrison novel. It was beautiful. The way it blends and juxtaposes well known mythology and fairy tales with folk tales from the community and all the symbolism in everything- it's like piecing together a puzzle. The language is beautiful itself but the story is also intriguing, regardless of which character it turns to. It keeps you on your toes and the transformation of the main character is intriguing. Mixing fact and fiction, corporeal with supernatural, and recorded history vs. communal history- what a combination. ( )
  rianainthestacks | Nov 5, 2023 |
Originally published in 1977 - The story begins in 1931 and is set in the fictitious town of Mercy, Michigan. It is a coming of age story of a young negro boy named Macon Dead Jr, nicknamed Milkman because he was breastfed by his mother until he was 4 years old, raised in a severely dysfunctional family where it seems anything goes. He grows up wanting to fly, to be free of all the things that is holding him down. When he starts to learn about the deep, dark secrets kept in the family, feeling very insignificant in life, he decided he wanted out.

His mother, Ruth, apparently had an incestual relationship with her father who was murdered by her asshole of a husband, Macon Dead, for his money. She was so heartbroken that she crawled into bed naked with him and sucked on his fingers. But neither were going to tell because now they both had one on the other. His Aunt Pilate, an unmarried spiritualist and bootlegger, lives simply with no running water or electricity, has an unmarried daughter, who also has a daughter, Hagar…all three living together. Pilate carried around a bag of bones she called “Solomon”, and when asked, she merely stated it was her inheritance. Milkman had a three-year fling with his cousin Hagar who had fallen hopelessly in love with him that when he broke it off, she couldn’t function in life. Milkman’s relationship with his best friend, Guitar, also from a broken home, started to fall apart because Guitar chose the seedy life and got involved with a group who were determined to kill a white person for every black person killed.

Milkman travels back to his grandfather’s homeland in Danville, Pennsylvania, hoping to retrieve some gold supposedly still hidden in a cave where his dad and his Aunt Pilate hid out for a night after their father was murdered by white men for his farmland. The kids buried him best they could, but Milkman learned from the townsmen that his body ended up washing up in the river and the white men had thrown his body in the same cave where Macon and Pilate had stayed and, incidentally, had killed out of fear, an old white bum living inside that cave. Macon had found some gold hidden in the back of that cave but Pilate wasn’t interested in the gold. She was so upset that her and Macon fought and went separate ways. Pilate had gone back 3 years later, encouraged by her father’s spirit, to claim the bones. If you kill someone, you own them. They stay with you forever, even if just in your mind, and you must take responsibility for them. So, she did. She gathered the bones and carried them around with her everywhere she went, claiming it was her inheritance, and believing it was the white man’s bones, but later learned that it was her grandfather Solomon’s bones. So what happened to the white man's bones? Story never says.

What Milkman learned was that his family name was well-known and respected in this small town. His grandfather was a hardworking farmer, who started out clearing 10-acres of farm and ended up with 30-acres of a successful farming business, something to be proud of. He did find the cave, but no gold, which he promised to split with his so-called friend, Guitar.

He then decided to make a trip to Virginia, a little town named Shalimar, where his ancestors were from and where he learns of his heritage about his great-grandfather, Solomon, who abandoned his twenty-one sons, his grandfather being the youngest, and wife. Folklore had it, his body literally lifted out of the field trying to take his grandfather with him. But his grandfather accidentally dropped out of his arms. Solomon flew back to Africa, never to be seen again. Nearly everyone in town was related and songs were sung by children about him. He was the one who escaped slavery, but it left everyone else destitute. I believe the meaning of the title of the book, Song of Solomon, refers to the plight and dysfunction of Solomon’s people after they were broken. But, Milkman, finding his roots and knowing where he came from cleared his mind and proved that he was important and had a lot to be proud of. He was anxious to get back home and tell his family.

Toni Morrison writes with a lot of underlying meanings. But, the very last sentence of the book, which refers to Milkman just before he jumps, or flies off the cliff, so his friend Guitar doesn’t have to shoot him dead for not coming up with the gold: “For now he knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air, you could ride the air”, didn’t make a lick of sense to me, and I know it was supposed to mean something deep…because I’m pretty sure Milkman died. If he was finally free and happy enough to fly, I would think he was finally able to change the course of his family to the better moving forward. But, since he flew off the cliff and killed himself, surely, she’s not saying the only way out of their dysfunctional plight is to commit suicide. ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
Milkman is adrift. Caught between his parents, distant from his sisters, misunderstood by his best friend. This is his attempt to find his place in the world - an existential quest that leads him into the tangled past of his family history.

Milkman is a cipher. Because he is a reflection of the hopes and fears of those around him, he lacks any real personality himself. He lives in the shadow of his father and grandfather. "Everyone wants a black man's life," his best friend Guitar tells him. It is almost as if the life is being sucked from him. ( )
  jonbrammer | Jul 1, 2023 |
A well-written book that touches on a lot of the psychology, sociology, and economic identity of a group of black people living in the north. The plot feels much more meandering and less focused than some of Morrison's other work. ( )
  CosmicMiddleChild | May 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
The poetry of the language. The vernacular and the rhythms of speech... It's eavesdropping on a slice of life. You care for every character. You love them, you bleed for them. It's a masterclass in narrative fiction. It's a book that not only makes me want to be a better writer, but a better person as well

added by vibesandall | editGood Housekeeping, SARAH WINMAN
Morrison moves easily in and out of the lives and thoughts of her characters, luxuriating in the diversity of circumstances and personality, and revelling in the sound of their voices and of her own, which echoes and elaborates theirs.
added by vibesandall | editThe New Yorker
Toni Morrison is an extraordinarily good writer. Two pages into anything she writes one feels the power of her language and the emotional authority behind that language. . . . One closes the book warmed through by the richness of its sympathy, and by its breathtaking feel for the nature of sexual sorrow.
added by vibesandall | editThe Village Voice
A fine novel exuberantly constructed. . . . So rich in its use of common speech, so sophisticated in its use of literary traditions and language from the Bible to Faulkner . . . it is also extremely funny.
added by vibesandall | editThe Hudson Review
Toni Morrison has created a fanciful world here. . . . She has an impeccable sense of emotional detail. She’s the most sensible lyrical writer around today.
added by vibesandall | editThe Philadelphia Inquirer

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Morrison, Toniprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cavagnoli, Francasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Criado, CarmenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edlund, Mårtensecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guiloineau, JeanTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaplan, MarthaAuthor Photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Praesent, AngelaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Price, ReynoldsIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rué, SylvianeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thigpen, LynneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verhagen, PietTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
The fathers may soar / And the children may know their names
First words
The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance agent promised to fly from Mercy to the other side of Lake Superior at three o'clock.
He soaped and rubbed her until her skin squeaked and glistened like onyx. She put salve on his face. He washed her hair. She sprinkled talcum on his feet. He straddled her behind and massaged her back. She put witch hazel on his swollen neck. He made up the bed. She gave him gumbo to eat. He washed the dishes. She washed his clothes and hung them out to dry. He scoured her tub. She ironed his shirt and pants. He gave her fifty dollars. She kissed his mouth. He touched her face. She said please come back. He said I’ll see you tonight.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family's origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black wo

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions

Thornwillow Press - Song of Solomon in Fine Press Forum

Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (4.03)
0.5 6
1 30
1.5 7
2 73
2.5 27
3 327
3.5 64
4 610
4.5 83
5 685

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 202,137,705 books! | Top bar: Always visible