The Bluest Eye

By Toni Morrison,

Book cover of The Bluest Eye

Book description

Read the searing first novel from the celebrated author of Beloved, which immerses us in the tragic, torn lives of a poor black family in post-Depression 1940s Ohio.

Unlovely and unloved, Pecola prays each night for blue eyes like those of her privileged white schoolfellows. At once intimate and expansive,…

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Why read it?

7 authors picked The Bluest Eye as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, which was first published in 1970, is a short, utterly astounding, beautifully crafted novel. As with Morrison’s other works of fiction, The Bluest Eye reveals in stark, sometimes harsh, occasionally exquisite detail, the hardships and traumas suffered by her characters.

Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved; she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.

The Bluest Eye takes place mostly in Lorain, Ohio, Morrison’s own hometown. As such, it is semi-autobiographical, while, at the same time, offering a window into the struggles of countless other African Americans living in post-World War…

Unfortunately, Toni Morrison’s first major novel The Bluest Eye has long been targeted on banned book lists, which is unfortunate.

Told through the narration of Claudia - a Black girl character after my own heart with the same on-point, justifiably defiant thinking I had as a young girl, we get the story of Pecola and a community that is shaped by both the history of white supremacy and it’s own cultural richness and texture.

Morrison’s writing is so visual and visceral, and the storytelling so honest it spoke to my own war against Black girl invisibility in my own world.…

Morrison often said she wrote her novels because there was no one writing what she wanted to read. I admire that sentiment because it just makes sense: if there is nothing to read, write it yourself.

She did not simply want to write; she wanted to write specifically from the black perspective, from both a thoroughly political and historical context. She taught me that I should always critique society and ask others to do the same. In this book, now studied in literature classes (and other disciplines) across the world, Morrison forces the very young protagonist, Pecola Breedlove, deeply into…

Her haunting classic that was always both on point and ahead of its time. Beloved was her big hit, but this was always my favorite. It’s sparse and slim—you can read it in a day—but it lingers with you. Made this young teenage white boy really think about race at a time when it was the furthest thing from my mind.

Once, I had the great luck to sit across from the editor who, in 1968, discovered Toni Morrison’s first novel, the now-classic The Bluest Eye. Alan Rinzler said that he felt as if the manuscript “opened” in his hands, showing a world publishing had never seen. Few at the time were interested in Black girls’ stories. When the slim book was published in 1970 it sold a mere 2,000 copies. It was not until Oprah championed it in 2000 that it sold 800,000.

In 1986, when I read The Bluest Eye, I was of course drawn to Pecola,…

From Alle's list on girls with traumatic backgrounds.

When my wife handed me The Bluest Eye and told me to “just read it,” I had no idea what I was about to experience. Few writers wield the weight of perfectly balanced, powerful prose like Morrison, and fewer still have produced her unique brand of grim, heartbreaking, beautiful story craft with such breathtaking quality and consistency. She shows both the meanness of the world, and its humanity, in all its many guises. Morrison’s masterful combination of unflinching truth, keen observation, dark subject matter, and pitch-perfect execution long ago cemented her legacy as one of the world’s greatest writers, and…

This work of historical fiction was Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison’s first novel, published in 1970. I was a newspaper book reviewer at the time, and I read it for my column. I instantly recognized Morrison’s early genius for poetic language and unflinching truth-telling, which blossomed into her mature masterpiece Beloved. The story captivated me, for I ached for the struggles of Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl struggling not only to grow up but to survive racism during the Depression. Most moving to me were her prayers for blue eyes, underscoring how standards of physical beauty can damage a young…

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