Wisdom From Kammbia Story Review 8: Recitatif by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is one of those authors I have admired and respected but not loved her fiction. I have read Song of Solomon, Jazz, & Paradise of her work. Song of Solomon is my favorite but my feelings as a reader on a storytelling level have been lukewarm at best. However, this short story (the only one she ever wrote and published) is finally a work of her fiction I really enjoyed as a reader.

The story of Twyla & Roberta that seems to take place in the early 1970s that chronicles their journey to womanhood. One is white. One is black. But, Morrison does not make it obvious which race each girl belongs too. There are cultural context clues and stereotypes that would lead to an easily analysis of their ethnic identity. But, Morrison is a writer (like sci-fi/fantasy writer Gene Wolfe) that makes you work as a reader.

Thanks to the fellas at @booksarepopculture with the suggestion to read Zadie Smith’s introduction after the story made a big difference. I would recommend that too.

Recitatif is the best short story I have read in 2022 and one that could have been written by Octavia Butler, N.K. Jemisin, or even Ursula Le Guin. Glad to have finally read a Morrison work I could enjoy on a storytelling level.

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