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Essay Topics

How does Morrison present the relationship between sexuality and violence in her novel?

The title of Morrison’s novel is Home . How does the novel define the idea of home , and how do Frank’s and Cee’s journeys home compare?

How does Morrison present the African American experience of life in the 1950s?

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Toni Morrison – Home

Home by Toni Morrison – review

R eviewing Toni Morrison's last novel, A Mercy (2008), in the New Yorker, John Updike referred to it as "another instalment of her noble and necessary fictional project of exposing the infamies of slavery and the hardships of being African-American". The nobility and necessity of the enterprise does not quite offset the sense of weariness that comes from that "another instalment", and Updike had a point: exposure of infamies and hardship is a fairly limited artistic ambition.

At Morrison's best, in novels such as Beloved (1987) and Song of Solomon (1977), she did much more than expose: she sang, excoriated, harrowed, educated, mythologised and uplifted. It has been 42 years since the publication of The Bluest Eye (1970), her groundbreaking first novel about self-hatred and incestuous rape in the black community. But after nearly half a century, denouncing brutality becomes a fairly circular enterprise. The instalment plan can turn history into a warehouse of horrors: which abuse shall we summon next, which barbarity shall we recount? It is not that novelists should shy away from historical trauma, far from it: but their job is to find something interesting to say about evil, rather than simply announcing its existence, being outraged, and going home. There is no dearth of possibilities, after all: as a species we are deficient in many ways, but we have a talent for atrocity.

Generational legacies, hauntings, ghosts, and the persistent effects of racism and sexism are Morrison's enduring themes: they are big ones. But her novels about them are getting smaller, in every sense; she seems to be losing patience with her own stories. Over the years Morrison's settings have also become increasingly historical, as her novels grow closer to fables: A Mercy went the farthest afield historically, travelling back to the 17th century to tell a revisionist version of the founding of America. Beloved is set in Ohio and Kentucky during the antebellum days of plantation slavery. Many of Morrison's novels range across the 20th century to explore the lingering effects of slavery and poverty, often amid all-black communities: Sula (1973) tells of two women bound by a terrible secret, while Song of Solomon is about the need for people to take flight; Jazz (1992) played with music to tell the story of Harlem during its renaissance in the 1920s. Morrison's last novel set entirely in its contemporary moment was Tar Baby in 1981 (it is also the only one of Morrison's novels not set exclusively in America; much of its action occurs on an imaginary Caribbean island), although the cross-cutting storyline of Love (1993) does reach into the 1990s. Beloved continues to be Morrison's masterpiece, though acknowledgment is rarely made of the strong similarities between Beloved and Corregidora , a remarkable novel by Gayl Jones, which Morrison edited – some say co-wrote – when she worked at Random House in the 70s.

Beloved has been followed by a catalogue of increasingly symbolic abstractions: Paradise (1997), Love (2003), A Mercy and now, Home . Morrison has always had a dangerous tendency toward allegory, and a moralising strain that at its most simplistic can be positively Aesopian. The problem with allegory is that it risks turning literature into a theme park: Take a ride on the Horror Train! Visit the Haunted Mansion of History! (As she moves into history, Morrison is also slipping increasingly into anachronism: A Mercy was riddled with them, and early in Home we are asked to believe that a man in the 1950s thinks that a "face seemed to morph into the front of a Jeep".) In Home , Morrison returns to the 50s, an era she remembers, to mine the traumatic possibilities of the Korean war and of biological experiments on African-Americans. The two themes could have come together neatly – black soldiers were experimented upon, to America's eternal shame – but as one of Morrison's subjects has always been violence against black women, she makes the victim of medical experiments the sister of a soldier.

Home tells the story of Frank Money, an African-American veteran traumatised by his experiences in the Korean war. He has been back in America for a year, but feels too violent and dislocated to go home to Georgia, where his younger sister still lives. As the novel opens, Frank finds himself restrained in a hospital, but can't remember exactly why he's there: "Just the noise. Loud. Real loud … Maybe I was in a fight?" He has received a mysterious letter from a woman named Sarah, telling him that he must hurry home and rescue his younger sister from some unnamed danger: "Come fast. She be dead if you tarry." So Frank breaks out of the hospital, shoeless in the dead of the winter, and begins to make his way cross-country to Georgia, relying on the kindness of strangers and trying to suppress his traumatic memories of the war as he goes. Fortunately for him, the first person he encounters is a kindly minister subtly named John Locke, who gives him $17 and helps him on his way. Morrison cross-cuts Frank's story with that of his sister, Ycidra, known as Cee, who left home at 14 with "a rat" who called himself Prince. He has since run off, and Cee finds a job as a medical assistant for a white doctor named Beauregard Scott; his housekeeper, Sarah, shows Cee his office, where, gazing in awe at titles such as The Passing of the Great Race , and Heredity, Race and Society , she innocently wonders what "eugenics" means. It is a powerful set-up, building suspense and a mounting sense of anxiety: what terrible things are going to happen to Cee, and how will Frank save her, when he can't save himself?

Within this realistic framework, Morrison makes two gestures toward a more experimental sensibility. The first is the insertion of brief, italicised passages in which Frank narrates his own memories and argues with the narrator of the other sections: "Earlier you wrote about how sure I was that the beat-up man on the train to Chicago would turn around when they got home and whip the wife who tried to help him. Not true. I didn't think any such thing. What I thought was that he was proud of her but didn't want to show how proud he was to the other men on the train. I don't think you know much about love. Or me." The other is the mysterious recurrence of a ghostly little man in a pale-blue zoot suit who appears at key moments and then vanishes. Perhaps he is evoking Malcolm X (although Malcolm X was famously tall), who described in his autobiography the sky-blue zoot suit he wore on the streets of Harlem in his hustler days with his "homey" Shorty; Frank also thinks frequently of the "homeys" who went to war with him but did not return home.

This is all very promising, and if Morrison had finished writing the novel she so carefully began, it might have been one of her best in years. But at well under 200 pages with wide margins, Home barely begins before it ends; just when the reader expects the story to kick in to gear, as Frank arrives back in Georgia and finds Cee, Morrison seems to lose interest. Cee's traumatic experience with the doctor is dispatched in a matter of (euphemistic) sentences; Frank simply carries her out of the doctor's house, and they head home to the small town they both hated, where a familiar group of sisterly healing women nurse Cee back to health. Morrison refuses to confront the violence she has invoked, substituting instead a few Morrisonian perorations insisting that a woman own herself ("Don't let … some trifling boyfriend and certainly no devil doctor decide who you are. That's slavery. Somewhere inside you is that free person I'm talking about. Locate her and let her do some good in the world").

Frank's post-traumatic stress disorder disappears as easily, effecting one of the least satisfying "redemptions" I can remember – and like most Americans, I am a sucker for redemption stories. Frank confesses that he is guilty of barbarity during the war – an important confession, especially given the tendency in recent American novels about the Korean war such as Chang-Rae Lee's The Surrendered and Jayne Anne Phillips's Lark and Termite to displace all the cruelty on to secondary characters, keeping protagonists pure and noble – but even as Frank realises he must not "let him[self] off the hook," Morrison does just that. Frank concludes: "The best he could hope for was time to work it loose," and we're done, with the result that it is not only the character who is let off the hook. Home should be relentless, unsparing, but Morrison relents halfway through, and spares everyone – most of all herself.

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The limits of empathy in Toni Morrison’s ‘Home’

War time an idea, its history, its consequences.

  • May 28 th 2012

By Mary Dudziak

home by toni morrison essay

The message of this novel is sobering. Whatever home might be for Frank, it is not a place where war is absent, as he brings Korea along with him as he travels. If peace is thought of as an absence of war, it is a state that Morrison’s character is unable to experience. War memories, psychological injury, and loss have become a part of him, so that his wartime and peacetime selves have become one. His army jacket and dog tags are outward signs of an inner melding. Home for this soldier/citizen cannot be a place apart. And so a central theme in the novel is the kind of space home can be for a broken veteran like Frank.

There is violence in the novel, but the most jarring moments in Home aren’t Frank’s flash-backs to Korea. It is when he speaks directly to the author, criticizing her inability to understand him, and momentarily breaking the spell of the novel’s fictive spaces. In those moments, this novel about war and home becomes an engagement with a broader human failing, one that will mar contemporary homecomings.

Frank admonishes the author (or the author’s presence as a character) that she can’t capture his experience. “You can’t imagine it because you weren’t there,” he says of the Korean War. “You can’t describe the bleak landscape because you never saw it.” Describing his family’s forced departure from their home in Texas when he was a boy, Frank seems to snap at the author: “Write about that, why don’t you?” He says of the stale food offered to the hungry family in a church food line. And of the summer heat as they crossed into Louisiana: “You can’t come up with words that catch it.” The author, it seems, can neither capture Frank’s experience with language, nor even understand it.

Sometimes treated as a novel about personal triumph, Home is better seen as an exploration of the limits of understanding. In that way, Morrison truly illuminates the ‘home’ of the book’s title. Home is not a place of restoration, nor the place of broken dreams (as in post-World War II film The Best Years of Our Lives ). It is the place we look for understanding but can never find it. To the extent the characters heal, it is in the context of a profound inability to connect.

The novel follows Frank, as he tries to make it to Georgia to help his ailing sister. We hear of the brutal racism that marked Frank’s family before his war service and that greeted him afterward. Even the physical surroundings are treacherous, as moonlight is maniacal and the morning landscape is “melancholy.” The novel is littered with limited relationships. It seems for a time as if the childhood brother/sister bond that opens the novel will ultimately be that home-place of the novel’s title, where the narrative strands will resolve.

Home in this novel is not a land (as in homeland), or a front (as in homefront). Home is tied to concrete physical spaces and to memories of their past meanings. But home is not a space of reunion. It is a place where individuals remain disconnected, able to see only the exterior of their most intimate human contacts. Brother and sister provide support for each other, but even at home individuals don’t fully know each other. They can never truly empathize because, as Frank admonishes: “You can’t imagine it because you weren’t there.”

Home is a cautionary tale for an era when soldiers return from places the rest of us can never fully understand. We thank them for their service, and airlines allow them to board along with elite travelers (at least when in uniform). But in our era, as in Frank Money’s, the experience of war itself is far away and largely inaccessible. Frank’s nightmares and rages would now have a name: post-traumatic stress disorder . Tying his violent outbursts to a medical diagnosis might earn a contemporary Frank our sympathy. But even if broken soldiers received better care and resources, they would still confront the same emptiness — the profound limits of empathy.

Taking it beyond other ‘postwar’ narratives, Morrison represents the limits of empathy for the soldier as a general human condition. These limits tie the individual narrative strands together. As different characters find their own paths to more hopeful futures, they do so in a context of psychological isolation, not of connection. It’s not just Frank and his love interest who cannot understand each other. All characters are so limited.

And so in the homeland of this novel, society’s inability to fully empathize with the soldier is a parable about the commonality of this profound human condition. And perhaps it is a warning. Whether it is a soldier or any other fellow human being, our efforts at understanding must be tempered by the knowledge that true empathy is an impossibility. That we are, in the end, like the character of the author: writing our own narratives, always hampered by what we lack the capacity to see.

Mary L. Dudziak is Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Professor of Law, History and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law School. Her books include War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences ; Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey; and Cold War Civil Rights.

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Home (Morrison Novel)

By toni morrison, home (morrison novel) study guide.

Home is American novelist Toni Morrison 's 10th novel, published by Alfred Knopf in 2012. Morrison has been forthcoming about the various influences on the germination and the writing of the novel. She wanted to critique the faddish affection for the 1950s, commenting, “I was trying to take the scab off the 50s, the general idea of it as very comfortable, happy, nostalgic. Mad Men. Oh, please. There was a horrible war you didn't call a war where 58,000 people died. There was McCarthy." She also explained, “A reason for Home is that I got very interested in the idea of when a man's relationship with a woman is pure—unsullied, not fraught—It could be masculine and protective without the baggage of sexuality. So the sort of Hansel and Gretel aspect really fascinated me."

Morrison purposefully does not identify protagonist Frank Money as Black, but instead allows the textual evidence to make that clear. She told the New Yorker , “When I was writing ‘Home,’ I had the ‘ Green Book ,’ the one that tells black people where they can spend the night. And where they can eat. And I got a copy of it, as a matter of fact, from the library at Princeton, so that I could have him go there and have porters, or preachers, or friends that he had met in a restaurant, tell him where he could sleep or take him in. But I never identified him originally; I gave in, finally, but I never identified him, when I first wrote ‘Home,’ as a black man...I just wanted the reader to just—if he couldn’t go to this fountain, the reader would know. If he couldn’t go to the bathroom, he had to go in the bushes, the reader would know. But I never used the word.”

Morrison dedicated the novel to her son Slade, who died eighteen months before the book’s publication.

The novel received mostly positive reviews, though not as laudatory as those of many of her other novels.

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The Question and Answer section for Home (Morrison Novel) is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Study Guide for Home (Morrison Novel)

Home study guide contains a biography of Toni Morrison, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Home (Morrison Novel)
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Essays for Home (Morrison Novel)

Home essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Home by Toni Morrison.

  • The Temporal Realities of Imagined Pasts in Home and Yellow Earth
  • Dehumanization of the African-American Community: Insights from Home

Lesson Plan for Home (Morrison Novel)

  • About the Author
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  • Introduction

home by toni morrison essay

Frank Money’s Character in “Home” by Toni Morrison Essay (Critical Writing)

There are certain persistence ideologies and unresolved contradictions in any society and America is no exception. Writers have always strived to capture such experiences in their works. Toni Morrison’s Home explores such ideologies and unresolved contradictions through her characters. This analytical essay explores the unresolved contradictions of American history and the persistence of ideologies that threaten the founding promise of equal opportunity by using a single character, Frank Money from Morrison’s Home .

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America was founded on ideologies of freedom and equality for every man based on the contents of the Declaration of Independence . Equality and freedom would act as means of guiding the newly born citizens of America. The issues of racial segregation and Black emancipation had persisted as Morrison shows in her novel. These led to the unresolved contradictions and persistence ideologies of racism, prejudice, violence and segregation, which led to limited opportunities for African-Americans as Frank Money shows in the novel.

Frank Money must live with harsh realities of prejudice, racism, bigotry, injustice, violence and segregation that had their origins from the period of slavery. These ideologies had persisted in the 1950s as Morrison captures them through experiences of Frank Money. During this period, several social and public places such as restaurants and restroom were still defined in terms of color. Frank experiences several, random searches by police throughout his journey. This is a case of soldier returning from a war in Korea, but is welcomed by harsh realities of prejudice, racism, bigotry, injustice, violence and segregation at home.

During Frank Money’s childhood, his family was forced out of Bandera County, Texas. Consequently, the family had to leave their land, their livestock and crops. They had to seek refuge from relatives in Georgia. Frank’s father had to work as a sharecropper while his mother “picked cotton during the day and swept lumber shacks during the night” (Morrison chap. 3). Morrison shows that Frank has to live with such harsh experiences and memories of Texas throughout his life. For example, Frank recalls that, “You could be inside, living in your own house for years,” Frank remembers, “and still, men with or without badges but always with guns could force you, your family, your neighbors to pack up and move — with or without shoes” (Morrison chapt. 3). Africa-Americans had 24 hours to leave or die. Crawford was lynched because he had refused to move. Crawford experienced violence and brutality that led to his death.

Frank Money is a character overwhelmed by painful, violence experiences throughout his life. He has just escaped from a mental institution after a short stint, nearly kills a man and always hallucinating about frightening experiences. Frank is a huge black man, who must walk without shoe and in fear of being arrested for vagrancy. Frank fears that he may be sent back to a mental hospital or jail for roaming. He is a man with nothing to do and therefore a potential culprit for any police officer. Morrison lets her readers understand anxiety with unresolved contradictions and persistence ideologies.

The Army that fought in Korea and discharged Frank Money was integrated but the same cannot be said of the country. Racism and segregation have persisted into the modern ‘good’ neighborhood of American society. Only African-American church ministers are willing to offer help without questions. Cases of racial violence are common, but the author picks few examples to portray the larger dominant ideologies of the 1950s. African-American is ferociously assaulted at the coffeehouse, and a friend informs Frank Money that police officers can shoot anything they want. America has turned to a mob city.

Morrison lets readers through the mind of Frank. The first-person voice of the narrator lets readers understand experiences of Frank in racist America. In addition, the independent narrator aims to recreate the scenes and deliver experiences of Frank.

Earlier, readers are introduced to life of Lily and Frank. Lily is an ambitious woman who wants to be independent and secure her future and offers Frank a reprieve from his mental tortures. Frank, however, is unable to progress beyond his nightmares. Frank is unable to adapt to small routine and practices of life. In addition, he lacks any enthusiasm to acquire property. Morrison introduces a critical concept that underlines the harsh economic realities of African-American society in the 1950s. There are individuals who strive for better lives and those who are merely surviving, trapped in their painful experiences and illusions. Frank is so confused by the burdens of his life, poverty and familial dysfunction perpetuated by racism and social segregating. Consequently, he is trapped in great despondency of passivity and a state of hopelessness. Frank has resigned to a life of a mere survival. On the other hand, Frank is propelled by the love for his sister, Cee with whom he feels empty without and unable to live. Frank cannot seek for self-identity or any meaning in life beyond his status because of unresolved historical contradictions and persistence ideologies of racial persecution and segregation.

Social practices in society define social institutions (Lorber 3). In addition, individuals’ personality characteristics, feelings, motivations and ambitions (Lorber 2) move from these diverse life experiences to develop differences between group members. They are responsible for differences in people. Social institutions have material base. However, culture and social practices have abilities to transform patterns and constraints of social institutions. Frank Money lived social institutions defined by racism, bigotry and violence during his childhood and as a teenager, he sought to find meaning in life from Lotus, GA, a place described as “the worst place in the world, worse than any battlefield” (Morrison chapt 7). In the battlefield, there is something to look forward to, but in Lotus, there was nothing to offer a chance for survival or success. Consequently, Frank and his friends listed in the Army. At this point, Morrison captures post-war horrors as experienced by African-American soldiers. They become angry, worn out by urgent needs of daily life and scared by one’s violent tendencies. Frank manages to gain sense when he receives a letter from Cee calling for urgent help.

Ideologies, based on race and class, have led to gradation of American society. Therefore, White is different from Black and middle class is different from upper class. This leads to inferiority of the downtrodden African-Americans. The dominant ideologies reflect hegemonic ideals, which majorities considered as the norm and the way things should be in society. As a result, dominant ideologies of white supremacy led to the definition of African-Americans as ‘others’ because they had pure black skin.

Societies differ in the extent to which African-American had experienced segregation. While Frank’s parents were forced out of their land and had to leave their belongings behind, the generation of the 1950s characterized by Lily aimed to acquire houses of their own. This reflects changes in social inequality in statuses of African-American men and women. Morrison explores challenges of men in Home . She portrays hard working women such as Lily as a contrast to hallucinating Frank. On the other hand, men on the dominant race had more power and jobs, but with controversial practices. For instance, Cee works as an assistant to a doctor who specializes in eugenics. Dr. Scott seems to have risen beyond race issues and treats poor, black people. Cee, however, fails to understand that Dr. Scott focuses on eugenics to manipulate breeding of African-American (Morrison chapt. 4). The doctor may sterilize his patients without their consent. This reflects some of the contradictions and dominant ideologies, which led White people to consider African-Americans as a human race to be controlled through science. White people commanded more power, prestige and property and therefore, many African-American had considered them as heroes.

Morrison, however, shows that African-American women are progressive and can find jobs and dream of better futures. This is not the case of Frank Money. However, Morrison points that America has failed to provide warmth and shelter to African-Americans who have returned from war. As a result, Frank must face constant scorn. He must get advice on a safer place for his stay while in Chicago and every point in his journey, Frank faces danger and he must be rescued by fellow African-Americans. Frank, however, notes that even the author herself cannot understand such experiences because she was not there and would soon forget. To African-American, home offers nothing rather than hopelessness and despair.

One can conclude that the unresolved contradictions and persistence ideologies of racism, segregation and other atrocities are America’s moral debts, which it must reckon with in order to be whole. Today, based on the principles of equality and fairness, the demands of the Black Student Union to address the issue of poor campus climate show that America is yet to overcome historical, persistence ideologies, which have raised contradictions (UCSD’s State of Emergency: Real Pain. Real Action! par. 1). Contradictions have emerged because of persistence ideologies that do not promote fairness and the founding promise of equal opportunity established in the Declaration of Independence document. Somerville noted that, “Queer political groups have not always achieved this goal of inclusiveness in practice, but they have sought to transform the homophobic ideologies of dominant U.S. culture, as well as strategies used….. many of which have tended to construct these groups as a viable “minority” group and to appeal to liberal rights of privacy and formal equality” (Somerville 187-188). Social and economic exclusion of African-Americans led to other social challenges, specifically the rise of impoverished communities, hopelessness and menial jobs.

Unresolved contradictions and persistence ideologies are deeply entrenched in American society and therefore, an individual’s grit cannot trounce them. Liberals have strived to recognize that racism is a dynamic iniquity in America. They must acknowledge the long persistence ideologies and unresolved contradictions that have inhibited African-Americans’ success and the entrenchment of such ideologies and contradictions into federal policies, which today affect learning of black students. Morrison only considers reparation as an alternative to America’s current moral debts. Moreover, the persistence ideologies had created tenant farmers out of African-Americans and one can comprehend the intricate relationship between white people and African-Americans. It seems that persistence ideologies of racism and violence have emerged stronger and have since then affected several aspects of social practices of American society until now. In fact, racism remains active and it has evolved through various institutions longer than expected in America. For instance, the ideologies of African-American inferiority noted in 1950s and during the period of Civil Rights Movement are widely depicted in the Black Student Union’ demands. Today, some sections of Americans still hold to persistence ideologies and unresolved contradictions of white dominance and inferiority of other citizens.

Morrison continues to highlight the plight of African-Americans to reflect the failed social institutions, persistence dominant ideologies and their negative outcomes. Centuries of injustice endured by African-Americans have become moral debt for American society. Soldiers return home to a country with nothing to offer them and police brutality persists. Then one may wonder whether the kind of home that America offers its minorities and downtrodden is the right one.

Morrison does offer some hopes for readers. Frank Money is the voice through which the author shows that violence and bigotry have persisted in America and have affected their lives, but love, duty and a sense of dedication can transform America’s dark, blighted past into a bright future for all. Morrison shows this when Frank eventually assists his sister, Cee to become free and independent, capable of making her own decisions. Overall, Morrison depicts horrors that Frank Money experienced from childhood to adulthood. Nevertheless, the author offers hope and shows possibility of redeeming society or at least some progresses through peace.

Works Cited

Lorber, Judith. “Night to his Day”: The Social Construction of Gender. 1994. Web.

Morrison, Toni. Home. New York: Knopf, 2012. Print.

Somerville, Siobhan B. Queer. 2013. Web.

UCSD’s State of Emergency: Real Pain. Real Action! BSU Demands . 2010. Web.

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Home by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison narrates the main character in her novel by coming to the real source of his post-traumatic stress disorder (Ibarrola). Home is set in the aftermath of the Korean war (Brockes). Toni Morrison writes in the novel Home about a poor man named Frank Money. Frank is introduced as a man from the South who goes off to fight in the Korean War. He goes to fight in the Korean War to escape his countryside town. When Frank leaves to the war he leaves behind his sister Cee. Cee is left alone and must learn how to survive in the town without Frank her big brother being there. While Frank is away he receives news that Cee is in danger. Frank sets out to find Cee.

In chapter two of Home, Frank is in a mental hospital and must escape due to him receiving a letter that Cee is in trouble in their home town in Georgia. The note stated “Come fast. She be dead if you tarry” (Morrison 8). To escape the hospital, he first must plan on how he will get out of the high security hospital. As he’s planning the escape in his head everything he thinks about reminds him of things and it brings pain. This is where Toni Morrison first introduces that Frank has post-traumatic stress Disorder. Frank manages to get out of the mental hospital before sunrise. He runs barefoot in the freezing snow. Frank arrives at the AME Zion Church were a poor African American clergy helps him. As the man is helping Frank with food and shoes he cannot remember why he was put in a mental hospital. The man asks Fran “How’d you get there?” (Morrison 15) The only thing he can think of why he was placed there was because maybe he became violent. (Morrison 15)

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In chapter seven of Home, Frank describes his childhood. Frank describes Lotus, Georgia as the worst place in the world and that it is worse than any battlefield (Morrison 103). Growing up Frank only had his sister and friends that kept him sane. His parents were helpless to care about anyone or anything. The town was filled with people that did not strive for anything and Frank wanted more. That’s why he joined the army. The army helped him get out and see the world but it took a toll on his sanity.

Frank continues his journey to Georgia to find Cee. While heading back home on the bus and train rides, Frank spends most of the time thinking about his violent flashbacks he had since serving in the Korean War. Frank’s flash backs are not as bad when Lily, his girlfriend is around. Frank states that Lily helped him gain control over his life and described that when she was around his flashbacks did not haunt his as bad. However, now that he has left Lily behind to find his sister he is not sure if he can keep his PTSD under control. “…his anxiety become unmanageable” (Morrison 14). He then resolves to drinking little to try and help his anxiety.

In chapter nine of Home, Frank reflects on him time in Korea. He states, “You can’t imagine it because you weren’t there” (Morrison 119) He goes on to say that no one can imagine the place or the war he fought in Korea. Frank explains that Korea’s cold weather is painful. He also states, “Battle is scary, yeah, but its alive” (Morrison 119) By this he means that he felt alive when he had to follow orders, covering buddies, and when killing the opponents in the Korean War. The soldiers were not required to think deep thoughts when doing these commands.

As Frank continues his journey to find Cee. He has a flash back of his friend Mike dying in his arms in Korea. He reflects on the words that Mike said before he passed “Don’t tell Mama” (Morrison 126). When Frank talked with Stuff about Mikes death he stated that Mike died saying, “Kill the fuckers” (Morrison 126). He did not think what Mike originally told him was manly enough. However, apart from Mike’s dying words his death shook Frank up badly. Before Mike’s death he just followed orders in the War, he never portrayed himself as being brave. Until Mike’s death, soon after Mike became reckless about his own life. But it was not his who suffered consequences from being reckless it was another friend of Franks. Stuff, his arm was blown off and he bled to death before the medics arrived.

At the end of the book Frank states “I have to say something to you right now. I have to tell you the whole truth” (Morrison 173). He then states he has been hiding from telling the truth because he is ashamed of what he did. “I shot the Korean girl in the Face” (Morrison 174). Frank goes on to state that the little girl touched him and he was aroused by it which he was horrified. He did not think and just shot the little girl in the face. He killed her because he feared his actions on his desire.

“Day and night, he held on to that suffering because it let him off the hook, kept the Korean child hidden. Now the hook was deep inside chest and nothing would dislodge it. The best he could home for was time to work it lose” (Morrison 176) By this, Frank has acknowledged that he shot the little Korean girl and he cannot run away from what he did. He also must learn how to deal with it slowly. Frank’s PTSD was bad at the begging of the book because he was holding in something that was tugging at his heart. When he came clean he felt a relief. But he knowns that he will slowly deal with his emotions regarding the little girl her killed.

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The View from My Window in Gaza

By Mosab Abu Toha

An illustration of two eyes looking through fragments of a falling tile ceiling.

It is Thursday, October 12th, and half sheets of paper are falling from the sky in Beit Lahia, the city in northern Gaza where my family’s house is. Each sheet is printed with an Israeli military emblem, along with a warning: stay away from Hamas military sites and militants, and leave your homes immediately.

When I go downstairs, I find my parents and siblings packing their bags. Local schools, many of them run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, are already crowded with displaced families. But my uncle has called my mother to say that we can stay with his wife’s family in Jabalia camp, the largest of Gaza’s refugee settlements and home to tens of thousands of people.

My wife, sister-in-law, mother, sisters, and children travel to the camp by car. My older brother, brother-in-law, and I ride our bicycles. On the road, we see dozens of families, walking with whatever they can carry. Israel will soon tell more than a million residents of northern Gaza to evacuate immediately, an order that the U.N. calls “ impossible .”

That night, around 8:30, a blast lights up the apartment where we have taken refuge. Dust fills every corner of the room. I hear screams as loud as the explosion. I go outside, but I can hardly walk because the lanes are filled with stone and rebar. My brother-in-law’s car, about fifty metres away, is on fire. Nearby, a house is burning. On the second floor, which no longer has any walls, I can see an injured woman hanging over the edge of the building, holding a motionless child.

The houses in Jabalia are so small that the street becomes your living room. You hear what your neighbors talk about, smell what they cook. Many lanes are less than a metre wide. After two days in the camp, on Saturday morning, my family has no bread to eat. Israel has cut Gaza’s access to electricity, food, water, fuel, and medicine. I look for bakeries, but hundreds of people are queuing outside each one. I remember that, two days before the escalation, we bought some pita. It is sitting in my fridge in Beit Lahia.

I decide to return home, but not to tell my wife or mother, because they would tell me not to go. The bike ride takes me ten minutes. The only people in the street are walking in the opposite direction, carrying clothes and blankets and food. It is frightening not to see any local children playing marbles or football. This is not my neighborhood, I think to myself.

On the main street leading to my house, I find the first of many shocking scenes. A shop where I used to take my children, to buy juice and biscuits, is in shambles. The freezer, which used to hold ice cream, is now filled with rubble. I smell explosives, and maybe flesh.

I ride faster. I turn left, toward my house.

I was born in Al-Shati refugee camp, which is one of the eight camps in the Gaza Strip. In 2000, just as the second Palestinian uprising started, my father decided to move us to Beit Lahia. When we arrived at our new house, there were no windows and the floor had no tiles. The water pipes in the kitchen and bathroom were exposed.

In 2010, my father took out a loan to buy the land next door. With my mother, he planted fruit trees—guava, lemon, orange, peach, and mango—and vegetables. As a hobby, he started raising hens, ducks, rabbits, and pigeons in the garden.

After I got married in 2015, I built my apartment on top of theirs. My wife and I could see the border with Israel out our bedroom window. My children could see our neighbor’s olive and lemon trees.

In 2021, when I returned from a fellowship in the United States, my parents generously refreshed my apartment, buying new plates, glasses, rugs, and a desk. They had shelves installed for all the books I brought back. They also had the ceiling painted with a pattern that I love. In the center is a big brown-and-yellow star, and around it are little triangles, circles, and a rainbow. The shapes and colors seem to embrace and coexist with one another, like strangers who share the same floor of a building. The moment I saw it, I knew how much love my parents had for me.

I expect to be the only person on my street, but as I approach my building, I am surprised to find my neighbor Jaleel. He has a cigarette in one hand and a watering can in the other. As he waters his strawberry plants, he tells me that his wife and sister-in-law are inside, doing laundry, filling water bottles, and stuffing food into plastic bags. His family is sheltering in a school. It has no clean water and the toilets are dirty, but they have no other options.

I am relieved to find my building still standing. I walk up the stairs to my third-floor apartment, stopping first in the kitchen. The fridge and freezer doors are open, just as we left them. There has been so little electricity that everything perishable has started to rot. But the bread is holding up.

I go into my library, where I normally work on my poems, stories, and essays. I have spent hours here, reading writers like Kahlil Gibran, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Karr, and Mahmoud Darwish. Everything is coated in dust. Some of my books have fallen off the shelves. A window is broken. I take some candy out of my desk drawer, for the kids.

Finally, I go into the living room. As always, the windows are open. I wish I could close them, especially on freezing winter days. The shock wave that follows explosions, however, would shatter the glass—and who now has the money to repair windows in Gaza? The curtains, which blow madly toward me during bombings, flutter in the breeze.

I sit on the couch and stare up at the colorful shapes on my ceiling. They still shine with fresh paint. Three lamps dangle down at me—two that are connected to the electrical grid, and a third that runs on battery power, for when the electricity goes out. None of them are working now.

Afternoon comes with an unusual heat. Outside, instead of the usual sounds of motorbikes and ice-cream trucks, I hear the whirring of drones. There are no students coming home from school, no cars taking families to the beach, no birds chirping in our garden trees. I hear ambulances and fire trucks, news on the radio, and sporadic blasts, which sometimes become incessant. All mingle in a strange new soundtrack.

A fly seems to be stuck in my living room. There is not much point in shooing it, but I open the window all the way, pulling the curtains aside. Then, suddenly, an explosion shoves me back. It shakes the earth, the house, my heart. Books tumble from my shelves.

I grab my phone and take some pictures. Two bombs have landed about fifty metres from each other, perhaps two kilometres away from where I am standing. Have they hit a farm, a tree, a home, a family? It is not only the explosions that kill us but also the smashing of houses that used to protect us from the elements.

Birds soar into the sky; one falls before rising. Maybe a stone has landed on its back. Who will dress its wounds? We barely have doctors for people.

I return to the couch. Notifications on my phone share breaking news: “Two big explosions in Beit Lahia. More details soon.” I wonder what has happened to the fly. Perhaps it was a warning to both of us: don’t move.

One idea in particular haunts me, and I cannot push it away. Will I, too, become a statistic on the news? I imagine myself dying while hearing my own name on the radio.

I remember a day in 2020, when my wife and I experienced a snowstorm in Syracuse, New York. People came out of their houses, wondering aloud whether the electricity had failed. I think of how my wife and I smiled. I told her, “If they were to live in Gaza, they would spend most of their time outside their houses, wondering.”

I’m still looking at the ceiling. No flies anymore. I make some tea but forget to sip it. Now dust from the two explosions is settling on the couches, rug, and table. I close the windows a little, leaving some space for air.

I have forgotten to mention the dogs barking. I don’t usually hear them, but since the Israeli attacks have escalated, they have been making noise. At night, they seem to cry.

The ceiling appears to be staring at me. I shut my eyes. When I open them, the big star, the circles and triangles, and the rainbow have not moved. The way they cling to the ceiling reminds me of a baby on its mother’s breast. For a moment, I wish that I were a baby.

I hear another blast but don’t see any smoke. Panic runs through me. When you can’t see the explosion, you feel like you’re blind. I think of the refugee camp where I left my family, imagining my seven-year-old daughter, Yaffa. She never asks me, “Daddy, who’s bombing us?” Instead, she cries and tells me, “Daddy, it’s a bomb! I’m scared. I want to hide.”

I call my wife, Maram. She tells me that everyone is “fine.” Our kids “are watching videos on YouTube,” she says. That’s the only thing that can distract them from the explosions.

From the kitchen, I fetch twelve eggs, some beef and chicken, and the bread. I don’t take any pots or pans, for fear that Israeli drone operators would mistake them for guns or rockets. I take an extra charger from the library. Before I can leave, I notice the pile of books on my desk. It seems to be waiting for me to take one, to carry it to the garden for an afternoon of reading among the fruit trees. How I wish that I could drink some lemonade or guava juice now.

More notifications are lighting up my phone. Sometimes I decide not to check the news. We are part of it, I think to myself.

I catch my breath on the couch one more time. I cannot take my eyes off the ceiling. I imagine it falling in on me, just as so many homes have fallen in on so many families in the past seven days, killing them in the rubble of their own rooms. What will kill me? The little triangles? A piece of rainbow? The brown-and-yellow star?

Then I ride back to Jabalia camp, feeling the eyes of bystanders on my plastic bags of food. I can see from the way they look at me that they, too, would like to return to their homes and fetch what they need.

As I approach “our” house, I wind through streets that are strewn with stones and shrapnel. I ride slowly and carefully, hoping that my tire won’t burst under the weight that I’m carrying. Families are walking around, and children are playing hopscotch in the lanes. I can only imagine their panic at the sound of a tire popping. ♦

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Why Toni Morrison Left Publishing

Dan sinykin on black editors, white publishers, and beloved.

Commercial book publishing was (and is) unbearably white. In 1971, when Toni Morrison became a trade editor, about 95 percent of the fiction published by the big commercial houses was by white authors. By 2018, that number dropped only to 89 percent. One of the only other black women working as an editor, Marie Brown, started the same year at Doubleday. Black women faced bias along axes of race and gender, making Morrison’s extraordinary accomplish­ments all the more astonishing. She began her career in publishing as a textbook editor for L. W. Singer in Syracuse, a Random House subsidiary. On a visit a couple years later, Bob Bernstein—observing that “African Americans were not just underrepresented in the business; they were practically nonexistent”—promoted Morrison first to the scholastic division then to trade editor for Ran­dom House at the New York City headquarters.

She pointedly acquired black writers for what was an extremely white list. “I wasn’t marching,” she told Hilton Als. “I didn’t go to anything. I didn’t join anything. But I could make sure there was a published record of those who did march and did put themselves on the line.” She was unsentimental and unsparing. For an internal report on a manu­script from Black Panther Huey Newton, she recommended that Random House “delete some of the truly weak essays, edit all” and argued that “the Pan­thers and their prose should be given the benefit of editing and thus be shown in their best light.”   Along with Newton, she published nonfiction by Muham­mad Ali and Angela Davis; in terms of fiction and poetry, she published Toni Cade Bambara, Lucille Clifton, Leon Forrest, June Jordan, and Gayl Jones. She managed to make a little headway against the whiteness of the house’s list.

Her situation as a black woman at a very white press, though, was fraught. It was fraught within the house, where she had to contest entrenched white supremacy. It was also fraught outside the house, where her black peers might see her as a sellout. Some did. Morrison published poetry and fiction by Henry Dumas, a black writer who had been murdered by the police in 1968. His poems had circulated in the black press, including Black World , before Morrison published his collection Play Ebony, Play Ivory . Her edition didn’t acknowledge the prior publications. Editors at Black World were displeased. The executive editor wrote to Morrison to say that he was “more than a little offended.” A week later, Morrison received a letter from her friend Carole Parks, a Black World editor. She wrote, “it’s not just that you have given people absolutely no inkling that a Black publication gave Dumas his first national exposure. It’s that you have at the same time added to the myth that Black genius would languish unappreciated were it not for some white liberal or far-sighted individual like yourself.” Parks accused Morrison of being interested in herself and her “already prestigious career.” Morrison responded that she had been deeply hurt. She asked, “Perhaps I should leave white publishers to their own devices?”   She said she would miss her friendship with Parks.

In the meantime, Morrison became a star novelist. She published her first novel, The Bluest Eye , with Holt, Rinehart in 1970. When Robert Gottlieb, Knopf editor, learned that the author of The Bluest Eye worked in the same building, he brought her in house and became her editor for the rest of her life. She dedicated her late masterpiece, A Mercy (2008), to him. She published her second novel, Sula , in 1973, writing to her friend James Baldwin for a blurb, which he gave. “I love the quote just as you wrote it,” she replied. “Perfect and unad-copyish.” In the same letter, she lamented that she couldn’t be the one to publish his latest novel, If Beale Street Could Talk . “It is so beautiful that I wanted to cover it, touch it, promote it, be knowledgeable about it—you know become an If Beale Street Could Talk groupie.” After publishing her third novel, Song of Solomon , in 1977, she felt she needed more time to focus on her writing. She began coming into the office one day per week and doing the rest of her work from home.

In her last years as an editor, Morrison helped lead the chorus of those calling to take up arms against conglomeration. In 1981, Morrison delivered the keynote address at the American Writers Congress to an overflow crowd of three thousand. Writers today, she said, “are held in contempt—to be played with when our masters are pleased, to be dismissed when they are not.” She argued that the pomp of the 1970s, the big auctions and the author tours, masked the damage conglomeration had done: “the vitality in the arts which promoters like to talk about is false. Beneath the headlines of blockbusters and bestsellers, underneath the froth of the book fairs, something is terribly wrong.” She preached, she declaimed. The audience erupted frequently in cheers and applause. “The life of the writing community is under attack,” she said, sounding not unlike Stephen King in The Dark Tower . “Editors,” she said, turning to her day job, “are now judged by the profitability of what they acquire rather than by what they acquire, or the way they acquire it. Acceptance of the givenness of the marketplace keeps us in ignorance.” She closed with revolutionary rhetoric. “We are already at the barricades, and if there is one resolution that emerges from this congress, it is that we choose to remain at the barricades.”

She resigned from Random House in 1983. “Leaving was a good idea,” she wrote in the preface to her next novel, Beloved (1987), “The books I had edited were not earning scads of money.” She quietly blamed colleagues who were less than supportive of her list. “My enthusiasm,” she wrote, “shared by some, was muted by others, reflecting the indifferent sales figures.”

She threw herself into Beloved , which would become her greatest success. It was based on a news clipping she’d included in The Black Book (1974), a work of experimental collage. Margaret Garner escaped slavery in 1856 by crossing from Kentucky to Ohio with her four children. When slave catchers caught them, Garner killed her two-year-old and tried to kill the others rather than have them returned to slavery. Morrison transposes Garner’s story onto Sethe, her protagonist, and sets Sethe’s story after emancipation in Sethe’s house, which is haunted by the dead child, known as Beloved. It is a novel about the haunting afterlives of slavery. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988, helped Morrison win the Nobel Prize in 1993, and has become the most widely held U.S. novel in libraries and one of the most written-about U.S. novels in scholarly journals.   It influenced the priorities of African American literary studies for the coming decades.

By Morrison’s account, Beloved is also about publishing. This is, on its face, a ludicrous claim. The novel is about chain gangs and slave catchers and trauma. It features no editors, no publishing houses. Yet Morrison confesses that publishing is at its center. In the novel’s preface, she writes:

“A few days after my last day of work, sitting in front of my house on the pier jutting out into the Hudson River, I began to feel an edginess instead of the calm I had expected. I ran through my index of problem areas and found nothing new or pressing. I couldn’t fathom what was so unexpectedly troubling on a day that was perfect, watching a river that serene. I had no agenda and couldn’t hear the telephone if it rang. I heard my heart, though, stomping away in my chest like a colt. . . . Then it slapped me: I was happy, free in a way I had never been, ever. It was the oddest sensation. Not ecstasy, not satisfaction, not a sur­feit of pleasure or accomplishment. It was a purer delight, a rogue anticipation with certainty. Enter Beloved .”

“I think now it was the shock of liberation that drew my thoughts to what ‘free’ could mean,” she adds. Morrison is saying that leaving Random House enabled her to feel , in her body , a freedom that she could project back onto emancipation from slavery. She describes the first moment of freedom for Sethe’s mother, Baby Suggs, in much the same way. “Something’s the matter,” Baby Suggs thinks. “What’s the matter? What’s the matter?” She sees her hands as her hands. And she feels “a knocking in her chest, and discover[s] something else new: her own heartbeat. Had it been there all along? This pounding thing?”   It was the odd­est sensation.

Acknowledging the possibility of exaggeration, let’s follow Morrison’s thought. Beloved describes the thrill of freedom, but also insists that freedom is contaminated by the haunting of slavery. Among the degradations that haunt Sethe, she was coerced into complicity with racist writings. A villain named schoolteacher—uncapitalized—dehumanizes Sethe by forcing her to submit to his pupils’ scrutiny as they write down, in parallel, her “human” and “animal” characteristics. Sethe returns to this traumatic event, remembering the observation. She also remembers, and is haunted by, the fact that she made the ink that schoolteacher and his pupils used. “I made the ink,” she says, toward the end of the novel, “He couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t made the ink.”

Beloved is an exquisite work of art, terrifying and beautiful. It does everything. One of the things it does is allegorize the publishing industry for a black woman who worked as an editor at a major house for sixteen years, who fought for black writers in a sea of whiteness, who was more or less accused by other black editors of being a race traitor. Morrison, defending herself to Carole Parks, wrote that she didn’t have a career, she just had work. It is a story of coercion into white supremacy. I made the ink . But it is also a story about the exhilara­tion of freedom. Morrison ended her preface to Beloved by emphasizing the con­nection, making sure readers feel the sensation of a heartbeat that is hers and Baby Suggs’s both: “I husband that moment on the pier, the deceptive river, the instant awareness of possibility, the loud heart kicking, the solitude, the danger.”


The cover of Dan Sinykin's Big Fiction, an homage to the iconic Vintage covers of the 1980s

Dan Sinykin’s Big Fiction: How Conglomeration Changed the Publishing Industry and American Literature is available from Columbia University Press.

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92NY Halts Literary Series After Pulling Author Critical of Israel

The organization put the series on pause after several writers withdrew from events to protest its decision not to hold a reading last week with an author who had criticized Israel.

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Two adults and two children are seen passing by or emerging from the 92NY building on the Upper East Side.

By Jennifer Schuessler

92NY, one of the city’s leading cultural organizations, announced Monday that it was putting its prestigious literary reading series on pause, following an outcry over its decision to cancel an appearance last week by a prominent writer who had been critical of Israel.

The controversy started on Friday afternoon when 92NY, formerly known as the 92nd Street Y, decided to pull an event that evening featuring the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, who had planned to discuss his memoir. The reading, organized by 92NY’s Unterberg Poetry Center, instead moved to a bookstore in downtown Manhattan, without any sponsorship from the Y.

92NY confirmed afterward that the decision not to go ahead with the event stemmed from Nguyen’s public statements about Israel.

The decision drew criticism from advocates for free expression. And over the weekend, a number of writers scheduled to appear at 92NY in the coming months announced their intentions to pull out, and some members of the poetry center’s staff resigned.

On Monday afternoon, 92NY said that the 2023-24 literary series was “on pause given recent staff resignations.”

92NY, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, was founded as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, with the mission of serving “the social and spiritual needs of the American Jewish community,” according to its website. In the 20th century, it transformed into the 92nd Street Y, a culture and arts organization widely known to New Yorkers as “the Y.” Last year, as it began a $200 million renovation, it rebranded itself as “92NY.”

In a statement on Saturday about calling off Nguyen’s event, the Y said the decision was made was out of concern with Nguyen’s criticisms of Israel.

“We are a Jewish institution that has always welcomed people with diverse viewpoints to our stage,” the statement said. “The brutal Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel and the continued holding of hostages, including senior citizens and young children, has absolutely devastated the community. Given the public comments by the invited author on Israel and this moment, we felt the responsible course of action was to postpone the event while we take some time to determine how best to use our platform and support the entire 92NY community.”

The Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, founded in 1939, has long been one of the city’s most storied literary venues , with a roster of speakers which has included Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Philip Roth , Salman Rushdie and Toni Morrison .

Before the season was paused, upcoming events included appearances by Richard Ford, John Edgar Wideman and Roxane Gay, as well as an event on Thursday featuring two former United States poet laureates, organized in conjunction with the Academy of American Poets.

On Saturday, as news of the cancellation of Nguyen’s event spread, writers began announcing they would withdraw from upcoming appearances. The critics Christina Sharpe and Saidiya Hartman and the poet and novelist Dionne Brand said they would not appear at an event on Wednesday called “Writing, Form and Black Life.”

“As writers of conscience, as anti-imperialist, anti-racist and anti-colonial thinkers, we have cancelled our appearance,” they said in a joint statement posted on Sharpe’s account on X, formerly Twitter.

The poet Paisley Rekdal and the critic Andrea Long Chu also wrote on X that they were pulling out of their events.

“I am aware of the very difficult position that the Y is in, and I’m deeply sympathetic to it,” Rekdal said in an email on Monday. “However, the Y’s decision has unintentional knock-on effects for the writing community as a whole, in particular an implicit chilling effect on free speech.”

Chu, in her social media announcement, called 92NY a “pro-war nonprofit.” In an email, Chu said the organization had the right to invite or disinvite who it pleased.

“I don’t judge the Y for being political,” she said. “I judge it on the substance of its politics, which I find horrific.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Chihaya, the poetry center’s director, and Sophie Herron, the senior program coordinator, confirmed they had resigned, but declined to comment further.

The turmoil at the Y is part of continuing cultural repercussions over the war between Israel and Hamas. In the arts world, there have been numerous open letters criticizing Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and broader policies toward Palestinians. Some of those letters have in turn prompted counter-letters criticizing what the signatories see as the minimizing , or even the endorsement, of the surprise attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7 that killed some 1,400 people, most of them civilians.

Nguyen, whose novel “The Sympathizer” won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016, was among more than 750 artists who signed an open letter in The London Review of Books calling for an immediate cease-fire, and charging that Israel’s “unprecedented and indiscriminate violence” in Gaza constituted “grave crimes against humanity.” On Instagram, Nguyen also reiterated his support for the movement calling for boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning Israel, known as B.D.S.

His appearance at 92NY, which was to feature him in conversation with the novelist Min Jin Lee, was pulled at around 2 p.m. on Friday, six hours before it was supposed to start. It was held instead, without any sponsorship from the Y, at a McNally Jackson bookstore in Lower Manhattan.

At that event, Bernard Schwartz, the poetry center’s executive director, called 92NY’s decision “unacceptable.”

“What other events will the Y say can no longer happen on its stages?” he asked. When contacted on Monday, Schwartz declined to comment further.

Jennifer Schuessler is a culture reporter covering intellectual life and the world of ideas. She is based in New York. More about Jennifer Schuessler

Our Coverage of the Israel-Hamas War

A Looming Invasion: American officials have urged Israel to delay an invasion of Gaza , hoping to buy time for hostage negotiations and for more aid to reach the enclave. The Biden administration is also concerned that Israel lacks achievable objectives in Gaza , senior U.S. officials said.

Urban Combat: As the Israeli Army gathers at the Gaza border for a threatened invasion, experts are warning that the country’s troops could face some of the fiercest street-to-street combat since World War II .

A Political Conundrum: Israel has set itself a stiff challenge in aiming to vanquish Hamas. But a bigger question awaits after the war ends: Who will govern Gaza ?

Smashed Assumptions: The sudden and unexpected terror attack by Hamas in Israel has been a crushing blow to a host of assumptions that have defined the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for years. Here are four paradigms now in shatters .

Hostages: Hamas and other Palestinian groups are believed to be holding more than 200 hostages . An American mother and daughter  and two elderly Israeli women  have been released.

The Conflict’s   Global  Reach

Climate Change: The war between Israel and Hamas in the middle of an energy-rich region could imperil action against global warming .

A Threat for Global Growth: As the conflict roils the markets, worries are growing about how much the turmoil could cost the global economy .

In the United States: President Biden delivered remarks  on the wars between Israel and Hamas, and Ukraine and Russia, in a prime-time address that called for  military and economic aid to Israel and Ukraine  in the interest of global stability and national security.

Fury in the Middle East: Amid widespread protests in the region , the carnage in Gaza has unified the Arab world and brought a new outpouring of support for the Palestinian quest for a state .


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    Frank Money is twenty-four years old and a veteran of the Korean War. He receives a mysterious and anonymous note telling him to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to rescue his sister Cee, urging him to come quickly because if he is tardy Cee might be dead before he gets there.

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    First published in 2012, Home, written by Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, tells the story of Frank Money, a 24-year-old black Korean War veteran who is summoned to Atlanta, Georgia, to rescue his sister, Cee. He receives a note that reads "'Come fast. She be dead if you tarry'" (8) from an unknown woman.

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  22. The View from My Window in Gaza

    An essay by Toni Morrison: "The Work You Do, the Person You Are." Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive the best stories from The New Yorker . Mosab Abu Toha is a Palestinian poet from Gaza.

  23. Why Toni Morrison Left Publishing ‹ Literary Hub

    October 24, 2023. Commercial book publishing was (and is) unbearably white. In 1971, when Toni Morrison became a trade editor, about 95 percent of the fiction published by the big commercial houses was by white authors. By 2018, that number dropped only to 89 percent. One of the only other black women working as an editor, Marie Brown, started ...

  24. 92NY Halts Literary Series After Pulling Author Critical of Israel

    The organization put the series on pause after several writers withdrew from events to protest its decision not to hold a reading last week with an author who had criticized Israel. 92NY on ...