A flooring and masterfully composed novel. Beloved lulls you into a sense of total anxious dismay, slowly, before jumping into a surrealist meditation on the horrors of slavery and the ghosts its left behind in its wake. These spirits don’t leave us in the modern day, or so Morrison alludes to with the present (reconstruction era US) giving way to more of the past as the novel’s haunting fully manifests. 

The social fracture that slavery and systemic racism have given shape to ensues. Yet life marches forward, time passes, and our characters are left to square away the wounds they’ve sustained by the deep dark of the past. The window closes on a vague expression of hope. Hope for the future? Hope for community? Religious imagery is integral in framing these questions, as personal as they are existential. The path ahead does not bear guarantees, but our protagonists drive for life proceeds regardless (some to their grave, others to renewal).

My take for all that it’s worth. Opening 100 pages of prose do have their clarity issues, particularly with character names and unclear pronoun usage. There is no definitive sense of main cast until after the halfway mark, with so much history seeping throughout the main plot with no regularity. A definitive style choice, which is evident by the end of the novel.

5/5 “Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. . . . But it’s not.”

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