From The New York Times:
“Whose house is this?”
The first four words of Toni Morrison’s new book greet — or assail — us before the story even begins. They’re from the epigraph, which quotes a song cycle written by the author some 20 years ago and therefore, it seems safe to say, not originally intended for this book, but an indication, perhaps, of how long its themes have been haunting her. And “haunting” is a fitting word for the lyric itself, in which a speaker professes to lack both recognition of and accountability for the strange, shadowy, dissembling domicile in which he finds himself. The atmosphere of alienation makes the song’s final line even more uncanny: “Say, tell me, why does its lock fit my key?”
Thus the stage is set for “Home”: on the basis of its publisher’s description a novel, on the basis of its length a novella, and on the basis of its stripped-down, symbol-laden plot something of an allegory. It tells the story of Frank Money, a 24-year-old Korean War veteran, as he embarks on a reluctant journey home. But where — and what — is home? Frank is already back from the fighting when we meet him, a year after being discharged from an integrated Army into a segregated homeland. Since then, he has wandered the streets of Seattle, “not totally homeless, but close.” He has gambled his Army pay and lost it, worked odd jobs and lost them, lived with a girlfriend and lost her, and all the while struggled, none too successfully, against the prospect of losing his mind.