Alex White

The Old Folks at Home



Chatto & Windus 275pp £11.95 order from our bookshop

Toni Morrison’s new novel is set in Cincinnati in 1873 after the abolitionists’ deafeat of the slave-owners and tells the story of Sethe, an escaped slave, who cut her child’s throat with a handsaw rather than surrender her to slave-catchers.

Beloved is Sethe’s dead baby. Beloved is the only inscription on the tomb-stone. Sethe paid the stone-cutter in kind, ‘her knees wide open as the grave’, and she wonders if she might have got ‘Dearly’ for ten minutes more.

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