Details: (c) Toni Morrison 1977; Pub Vintage 1988; ISBN 0-09-976841-0
Verdict: Song of Solomon is a really impressive book.
Reasons for reading it: It's one of those books that every civilized person should read at some point.
How it came into my hands: RS's hamper of books for giving away.
Song of Solomon just works. I was really drawn into it, couldn't help caring about the characters. And while I was reading to find out how things would turn out for them, I got such strong impressions of their lives, of the setting, of the historical reality of being black in early 20th century America. The language, the strong imagery, the way everything fits together so precisely, makes it feel mythological, but it's also a realistic book about some fairly mundane incidents in some people's lives. The negative parts about it are upsetting, but it's not a tear-jerker or a melodramatic tragedy.
Fairly obviously, it's "about" racism and sexism and generally about people treating eachother in moral or immoral ways. But it's not a polemic, it works on its own level as a story about particular individuals as well. It did really make me think though. It wouldn't be quite right to say that I enjoyed it, but I certainly appreciated it a great deal.
I often feel I can't tell much difference between great books and ordinary good books. With Song of Solomon, though, it's very obvious why Morrison is considered to be such a great writer. I'm definitely pleased I read it.