Mouth Full of Blood

RO Kwon in The Guardian:

A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity,” says Toni Morrison in “Peril”, the brief, remarkable introduction to her newest book. In this collection by the Nobel prize winning author – widely, ardently considered to be one of the world’s best writers – there are 40 years of her essays, speeches and meditations, including her thoughts and arguments about politics, art and writing. The book contains exhortations and transcribed question-and-answer sessions, reflections and analyses, exegeses and commencement talks. In other words, it’s a large, rich, heterogeneous book, and hallelujah.

Organised into three parts titled “The Foreigner’s Home”, “Black Matter(s)”, and “God’s Language”, each section begins with a moving address to the dead: respectively, to those who died on September 11, Martin Luther King and James Baldwin. “The Foreigner’s Home” is centred on politics, particularly on questions of otherness, foreignness, citizenship and nationalism. Of who, especially in the US, gets to belong. Morrison makes plain that racism, tribalism and bigotry are nothing new – are, in fact, inherent to the broken foundation on which the nation was formed.