Blog, Bookish Life

A Meditation on Toni Morrison’s Voice

BoyBoy is my favorite character name thus far in my reading experience. His description in Toni Morrison’s second novel, Sula, is sensory and downright reflective of his low down nature. 

Clips of Ms. Morrison’s interviews circulate often, speaking to someone’s ambition, what they need in the moment. When Ms. Morrison passed away nearly two years ago, reflections poured in on what her writing meant to them. To be seen in the literary world and in Ms. Morrison’s sumptuous prose, especially, for many readers, as a Black woman. Long prior to her passing, I read The Bluest Eye. I thought my spirit was built differently because I did not have the same understanding of the novel as other literary luminaries explained. I thought “oh that is what happened.”  

Earlier this year, I garnered the bright idea to listen to Ms. Morrison’s novels on audiobook. To say my life has been elevated is an understatement. The first two novels, The Bluest Eye and Sula were read by Ms. Morrison. Even with grave plot points, I was soothed by Ms. Morrison’s voice. Her voice is a light that guides her reader through the darkness. My time listening to the audiobooks was a place to be present, to be still, something I was craving in the productions of my day. As a voracious reader and writer, I also craved a way to connect with her writing. 

I am listening to Tar Baby, which is not read by Ms. Morrison. The narration carries the same rhythms and seasonings of Ms. Morrison’s writing, appreciating her craft. 

No one writes a sex scene better than Ms. Morrison. Nobody. 

She can also cuss. 

The documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, is streaming on Hulu. Her friends and colleagues contribute their experiences working with her, further establishing her inimitable grace and power as a writer, editor, teacher, and prolific artist. She sits as the crowned jewel, reflecting on her experiences as well, enticing the engagement with the documentary. I even thought of booking a trip to Ohio or at least a serene house near a lake. 

Ms. Morrison gives in her voice peace and front porch energy. She tells you everything about the character’s experiences. She holds grit, affirmation, and foundation. Beloved is read by Ms. Morrison. For that, I am thankful. 

Ashley Paul is a traveler, runner, and baker. She is an Everlasting Bookworm and Culture Maven. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. She loves stories with social commentary, atmospheric writing, and compelling characters.


  1. Pingback: Happy Audiobook Month! | Feminist Book Club

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