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Recitatif: A Story
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2022
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Description
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER A beautiful, arresting story about race and the relationships that shape us through life by the legendary Nobel Prize winner—for the first time in a beautifully produced stand-alone edition, with an introduction by Zadie Smith
 
“A puzzle of a story, then—a game.... When [Morrison] called Recitatif an ‘experiment’ she meant it. The subject of the experiment is the reader.” —Zadie Smith, award-winning, best-selling author of White Teeth
In this 1983 short story—the only short story Morrison ever wrote—we meet Twyla and Roberta, who have known each other since they were eight years old and spent four months together as roommates in St. Bonaventure shelter. Inseparable then, they lose touch as they grow older, only later to find each other again at a diner, a grocery store, and again at a protest. Seemingly at opposite ends of every problem, and at each other's throats each time they meet, the two women still cannot deny the deep bond their shared experience has forged between them.
 
Another work of genius by this masterly writer, Recitatif keeps Twyla's and Roberta's races ambiguous throughout the story. Morrison herself described Recitatif, a story which will keep readers thinking and discussing for years to come, as "an experiment in the removal of all racial codes from a narrative about two characters of different races for whom racial identity is crucial." We know that one is white and one is Black, but which is which? And who is right about the race of the woman the girls tormented at the orphanage?
 
A remarkable look into what keeps us together and what keeps us apart, and how perceptions are made tangible by reality, Recitatif is a gift to readers in these changing times.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/01/2022
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780593315040
ASIN:
B08XBP2R7T
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Toni Morrison. (2022). Recitatif: A Story. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Toni Morrison. 2022. Recitatif: A Story. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Toni Morrison, Recitatif: A Story. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2022.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Toni Morrison. Recitatif: A Story. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2022.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jan 28, 2022 15:34:33
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: TONI MORRISON is the author of eleven novels and three essay collections. She received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and in 1993 the Nobel Prize in Literature. She died in 2019.
        Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW and Swing Time, as well as a novella, The Embassy of Cambodia, and two collections of essays, Changing My Mind and Feel Free. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People. Zadie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002, and was listed as one of Granta's 20 Best Young British Novelists in 2003 and again in 2013. White Teeth won multiple literary awards including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian First Book Award. On Beauty was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction, and NW was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Zadie Smith is currently a tenured professor of fiction at New York University and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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title
Recitatif
fullDescription
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER A beautiful, arresting story about race and the relationships that shape us through life by the legendary Nobel Prize winner—for the first time in a beautifully produced stand-alone edition, with an introduction by Zadie Smith
 
“A puzzle of a story, then—a game.... When [Morrison] called Recitatif an ‘experiment’ she meant it. The subject of the experiment is the reader.” —Zadie Smith, award-winning, best-selling author of White Teeth
In this 1983 short story—the only short story Morrison ever wrote—we meet Twyla and Roberta, who have known each other since they were eight years old and spent four months together as roommates in St. Bonaventure shelter. Inseparable then, they lose touch as they grow older, only later to find each other again at a diner, a grocery store, and again at a protest. Seemingly at opposite ends of every problem, and at each other's throats each time they meet, the two women still cannot deny the deep bond their shared experience has forged between them.
 
Another work of genius by this masterly writer, Recitatif keeps Twyla's and Roberta's races ambiguous throughout the story. Morrison herself described Recitatif, a story which will keep readers thinking and discussing for years to come, as "an experiment in the removal of all racial codes from a narrative about two characters of different races for whom racial identity is crucial." We know that one is white and one is Black, but which is which? And who is right about the race of the woman the girls tormented at the orphanage?
 
A remarkable look into what keeps us together and what keeps us apart, and how perceptions are made tangible by reality, Recitatif is a gift to readers in these changing times.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 1, 2021

        The only short story Nobel laureate Morrison ever wrote, "Recitatif" concerns Twyla and Roberta, friends in childhood, who lost touch as adults but keep encountering each other at places like a grocery store, a diner, and a protest march. One is white, one is black, but readers don't know which is which, Morrison having aimed to craft "an experiment in the removal of all racial codes from a narrative about two characters of different races for whom racial identity is crucial." Bearing an introduction by Zadie Smith, this is the story's first-time appearance as a stand-alone. When Verdelle published the Good Negress in 1995, she won early praise from Morrison. The novel went on to claim the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award and PEN/Faulkner finalist honors, but Verdelle's next novel--a Western featuring Black characters--has languished. Nevertheless, the novel led to a friendship with Morrison, detailed here along with Verdelle's early struggles to write and thoughts on what it means to be considered a writer with promise, still struggling. Originally scheduled for September 2021.

        Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        February 15, 2022
        "Recitatif" is Morrison's sole short story. Originally published in an anthology in 1983, it resurfaced in Glory Edim's On Girlhood: 15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library (2021), and now stands resoundingly on its own. As with all the Nobel laureate's work, "Recitatif" is endlessly ponderable. The title is French for recitative--"a rhythmically free vocal style that imitates the natural inflections of speech," and a key to Morrison's shrewdly precise dialogue. The story begins when two abandoned eight-year-old girls, Twlya and Roberta, meet in a shelter. One is white, one is Black; but we're left guessing about their racial identities, an exercise that reveals just how thoroughly programmed our racial perceptions are. In her substantial and enlightening introduction, Zadie Smith quotes Morrison, whom she describes as "the great master of American complexity," explaining that this tale is "an experiment in the removal of all racial codes." Class is also a sharp divide, especially when Twyla and Roberta reconnect as mothers living very different lives in a gentrifying Hudson River town and vehemently at odds over school busing. This is a profound and foundation-rocking conundrum of a -story.

        COPYRIGHT(2022) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from February 15, 2022
        The only short story ever written by the Nobel Prize-winning Morrison is also a thought experiment, illuminated here by Zadie Smith's close analysis of equal length. Twyla and Roberta are both 8 years old when they meet at a New York state institution where they are briefly housed--because, as Twyla tells us in the first sentence, "My mother danced all night and [Roberta's] was sick." They connect immediately despite the fact that "we looked like salt and pepper standing there and that's what the other kids called us sometimes." The girls run into each other several times later in life but never recapture their childhood connection. Among the wedges between them are their differing memories of an incident they witnessed involving a bow-legged "kitchen woman" named Maggie. Now, listen up: If you only remember one thing about this review, remember to skip over the 50-page introduction and read the 50-page story first. Just as students read the text before they hear the lecture, Smith's exegesis is much more meaningful if you know the story. If you read the intro first, you forfeit the ability to apprehend the story on your own, more critical than usual here since the issue goes beyond spoilers. According to Morrison herself, this story is "an experiment in the removal of all racial codes from a narrative about two characters of different races for whom racial identity is crucial." And as Smith adds, the "subject of the experiment is the reader." On every page, Morrison teases said reader with details about the girls, their mothers, and their lots in life that seem like they could help solve the puzzle of which is Black and which is White, yet they never conclusively do so. And as the story is designed to show and Smith will make sure you see, that is not the most important thing. A uniquely interesting and enlightening reading experience.

        COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER A beautiful, arresting story about race and the relationships that shape us through life by the legendary Nobel Prize winner—for the first time in a beautifully produced stand-alone edition, with an introduction by Zadie Smith
 
“A puzzle of a story, then—a game.... When [Morrison] called Recitatif an ‘experiment’ she meant it. The subject of the experiment is the reader.” —Zadie Smith, award-winning, best-selling author of White Teeth
In this 1983 short story—the only short story Morrison ever wrote—we meet Twyla and Roberta, who have known each other since they were eight years old and spent four months together as roommates in St. Bonaventure shelter. Inseparable then, they lose touch as they grow older, only later to find each other again at a diner, a grocery store, and again at a protest. Seemingly at opposite ends of every...
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