TONI MORRISON HAS written eloquently about the legacy of slavery for black people in North America. In a series of novels, beginning with The Bluest Eye (1970), she examines the damage inflicted by white slave-owners. the impact of segregation, and the struggle of black communities to find their place in American society. The focus of her enquiry is the human heart - its possibilities, contradictions and failures. Drawing on religious myth and history and employing a poet's dexterity with language, she explores the emotional effects of injury and displacement, and the difficulty of evaluating the behaviour of people acting under extreme conditions. In Beloved, a mother kills her daughter to save her from slavery, a tragedy which, Morrison suggests, cannot be judged according to everyday rules of right and wrong. In jazz, a middle-aged man shoots his young lover, but issues of race and identity are deeply implicated in the fatality, and affect the reader's assessment of the murder.
Questions of good and evil are again to the fore in Morrison's latest novel, Love, which tells the story of Bill Cosey., and the rise and fall of Cosev's Hotel and Resort, the 'best-known vacation spot for coloured folk on the East Coast'. When the novel begins, Cosey is long