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A Mercy

by Toni Morrison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,0591373,412 (3.73)262
In exchange for a bad debt, an Anglo-Dutch trader takes on Florens, a young slave girl, who feels abandoned by her slave mother and who searches for love--first from an older servant woman at her master's new home, and then from a handsome free blacksmith.
  1. 20
    White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America by Don Jordan (AsYouKnow_Bob)
    AsYouKnow_Bob: When she was out promoting "A Mercy", Toni Morrison talked up 'White Cargo' as a non-fiction approach to the ground she was covering.
  2. 00
    Little Fingers by Filip Florian (Othemts)
  3. 00
    The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (tangentialine)
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» See also 262 mentions

English (125)  Dutch (3)  French (3)  Finnish (3)  Norwegian (2)  German (1)  All languages (137)
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
Lonely, haunted women (enslaved, indentured, purchased for marriage) doing what they can for themselves in colonial America. There are some moments of community and affection, but mostly disappointment and betrayal. The consequences of the original mercy, like the one in Beloved, ripple on and on and on. ( )
  GwenRino | Sep 4, 2021 |
Very poetic look at a the beginning of America's troubled history. ( )
  bookwyrmm | May 4, 2021 |
I don't know how anyone can read Toni Morrison to analyse how she writes because her words sink me effortlessly into her world and I walk with her characters - no way to stand back. This book has an ever shifting voice as each person speaks. And while you can feel the distance of time in the voices, there is no distance in the relevance to today. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
Excellent novel, not my favorite from her but well worth reading. ( )
  LoisSusan | Dec 10, 2020 |
This book is dense and rich with many women's voices, which at first made it hard to follow. But Morrison's seamless narration and incredible prose reeled me in and left me reeling after the book was over. In some ways it reminds me of the many voices and mindsets in Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, but it approaches slavery, identity, ownership, love, and betrayal in ways that are timeless and relatable. I cannot stop thinking about this book. I highly recommend the audiobook--Morrison herself reads it. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
The landscape of “A Mercy” is full of both beauties and terrors: snow “sugars” eyelashes, yet icicles hang like “knives”; a stag is a benign and auspicious apparition, yet at night “the glittering eyes of an elk could easily be a demon.” But whatever the glories and the rigors of nature may signify to the civilized, for these characters, living in the midst of it, nature doesn’t signify. It’s simply to be embraced or dreaded — like the people with whom they have to live. In Morrison’s latest version of pastoral, it’s only mercy or the lack of it that makes the American landscape heaven or hell, and the gates of Eden open both ways at once.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, David Gates (Nov 28, 2008)
 
Morrison uses multiple narrators expertly (think also of Jazz), moving easily from third person to first, changing dictions and emphasis, fearlessly closing the novel with the previously unheard voice of Florens's mother. By doing so, she circles hawk-like around the moment of mercy, exploding its six degrees of repercussion from one life to the next, asking whether forgiveness or salvation is possible....

Although there's levity with a riotous tea party among the bawdy women who travel steerage with Rebekka, A Mercy is a sad, pessimistic novel, suspicious of the early makings of a democracy, unrelenting in leaving the unwanted unloved. And yet, the signature elements of Morrison's fiction—love turned inside out, history flipped on its head, biblical references, folk wisdom, ghosts, and an old-fashioned bloody, heart-wrenching tale—bring great relief. After the disappointing last two books, Paradise and Love, Toni Morrison's ninth novel roars across the arc of America's birth, wielding a prowess to haunt the reader as only Morrison can do.
 
Themes of slavery and grief, of women's struggles to escape the bitterness of the captive world, are at the center of Morrison's work. They also lie at the heart of her new novel, "A Mercy," which looks to history once again -- in this case, the 1680s and 1690s -- to explore the agonies of slavery among the settlers of the New World. Such a description makes Morrison's novel sound far too pat, however; it slights the poetry and breadth of her work. Yes, "A Mercy" is about slavery, but in the most universal sense, meaning the limits we place on ourselves as well as the confinements we suffer at the hands of others.
 
Morrison structures the novel in her familiar manner, giving one chapter by turns to each competing voice, collapsing time frames, seldom letting her characters directly rub up against one another, trapping each of them in their biographies. In this way, she creates something that lives powerfully as an invented oral history and that seems to demand to be taken as a parable, but one whose meaning - which lives in the territory of harshness and sacrifice - is constantly undermined or elusive.
added by zhejw | editThe Guardian, Tim Adams (Oct 25, 2008)
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toni Morrisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Engen, BodilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoekmeijer, NicoletteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ràfols Gesa, FerranTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riera, ErnestTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To R.G.
For decades of wit, insight and intellect
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Don't be afraid. My telling can't hurt you in spite of what I have done and I promise to lie quietly in the dark—weeping perhaps or occasionally seeing the blood once more—but I will never again unfold my limbs to rise up and bare teeth.
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I don't think God knows who we are. I think He would like us, if He knew us, but I don't think he knows about us.
What I know is there is magic in learning.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

In exchange for a bad debt, an Anglo-Dutch trader takes on Florens, a young slave girl, who feels abandoned by her slave mother and who searches for love--first from an older servant woman at her master's new home, and then from a handsome free blacksmith.

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Book description
EEN DAAD VAN BARMHARTIGHEID speelt zich af in Amerika tijdens de tweede helft van de zeventiende eeuw, de slavernij is nog in opkomst. Jacob Vaark is een avonturier en handelaar van Nederlandse afkomst die een bedrijfje heeft in het ruige Noorden. Hij is tegen mensenhandel, maar na aandringen van de moeder, accepteert hij toch een jong slavenmeisje als betaling. Ondanks de goede bedoelingen van de moeder voelt het meisje, Florens, zich door haar afgewezen. Ze gaat op zoek naar liefde, allereerst bij een oudere bediende van het huis, maar later ook bij een aantrekkelijke Afrikaanse hoefsmid, door wie haar leven in een stroomversnelling belandt.
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