By: M. Swift
On this day in history, Toni Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her 1987 novel Beloved. The book is about the haunting of a mother and daughter following their escape from slavery. When Beloved was passed up for a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, a number of Black writers addressed the snubs in The New York Times in January 1988. The book would go on to win the American Book Award as well.
Inspiration for Beloved
The primary theme explored include the horror of slavery’s impact on those who lived through it. In the case of Sethe, this comes in the form of the daughter she killed to save her from slavery.
If you never read Beloved, the figure the book draws inspiration from might be familiar. In 1856, Margaret Garner escaped into Ohio from Kentucky with her family. When the U.S Marshals came knocking to bring them back, she killed one daughter and injured the rest of children, preparing to kill them as well. She was placed back into slavery after her trial, dying of typhoid fever roughly two years later.
Adaptation and Other Books
Beloved received a film adaption in 1998 starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. Despite its box office performance is well regarded as a strong film on its own and a faithful adaptation. The novel is part of a loosely related trilogy of books and was followed by 1992’s Jazz which takes place in Harlem during the Renaissance and Roaring 20’s. The trilogy ends with 1997’s Paradise.
M. Swift primarily writes on moments and important figures in Black history for Your Black World. He also writes heavily on wrestling, comics, gaming, and Black sci-fi and fantasy.