Book Review: “Jazz” (1992) by Toni Morrison

Archibald J. Motley, "Nightlife" (1943).

Archibald J. Motley, “Nightlife” (1943).

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¬†Jazz is a peculiar book because it is more a stylistic exercise than a regular novel. Morrison set out to create a work that would not just be about the jazz age, but actually become it; she did not design the novel’s structure to enhance meaning, but to equal it. Jazz is not a book you read for the plot (it’s all right there on the very first page, no twists¬†beyond that point), but for the language, the rhythm pumping through the lines, the taste of it. In an interview with the Paris Review, Morrison said that it was the most intricate thing she had ever done, “a very simple story about people who do not know that they are living in the jazz age and to never use the word.”

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