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A Mercy

by Toni Morrison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,8541303,382 (3.73)236
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 236 mentions

English (118)  Dutch (3)  French (3)  Finnish (3)  Norwegian (2)  All languages (129)
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
Short glimpses of a found family of orphans -- a handful of them. Gorgeous as only the great Toni Morrison can write. Since the viewpoints numbered so many, I wouldn't have minded if this book was longer. Longer! Each character could have had their own book. Especially Sorrow's story - living on that ransacked ship was worth more story alone. The characters were lovely -- and I always appreciate any family of found orphans. I loved the image of Jacob rising from the sea when he is first introduced in the book. The last of Morrison's books I read was nine years ago -- loved it (Paradise) and I know I'd have a greater appreciation for the other books I read earlier if I read them again now. A worthy winner of the Morning News Tournament of Books in 2009 -- though I also really loved the second place book 'City of Refuge' by Tom Piazza. ( )
  booklove2 | Jun 12, 2020 |
Read 2018, favourite. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 14, 2020 |
Poetic and fresh. People would like to compare it to [b:Beloved|6149|Beloved|Toni Morrison|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1165555299s/6149.jpg|736076], but it is very different, and not a masterpiece like Beloved, nor does it have the feeling of saga and absolute tragedy that Beloved has. I love the themes of mother-to-daughter and the complexities and pains therein. Goes quickly, is very beautiful to read, has wonderful amounts of history strung throughout. ( )
  barrettlucero | Aug 23, 2019 |
Wow what a great book! I'm already thinking of re-reading it! ( )
  oacevedo | Apr 9, 2019 |
I'm afraid this came in the same category as The Stone Virgins for me, beautifully written but didn't convey much in terms of plot or character. Not as extreme a case, I was able to follow more of it but it mostly was impressionistic writing from a variety of voices in a not totally coherent narrative. It was wonderful writing but I wanted just a bit more.
  amyem58 | Apr 1, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 118 (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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Epigraph
Dedication
To R.G.
For decades of wit, insight and intellect
Thank you
First words
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.
Quotations
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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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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