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Song of Solomon

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  92,092 ratings  ·  4,342 reviews
Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the ...more
Paperback, 337 pages
Published June 8th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1977)
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Sandra I am currently studying this novel at University, and my professor explained that in a conference in Barcelona he asked Toni Morrison how did the nove…moreI am currently studying this novel at University, and my professor explained that in a conference in Barcelona he asked Toni Morrison how did the novel end. Her answer was 'do you want my version?', and then she admitted that to her it was a good ending, a hopeful ending, as you say.(less)

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 ·  92,092 ratings  ·  4,342 reviews

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Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american

"He walked there now--strutted is the better word, for he had a high behind and an athlete' stride--thinking of names. Surely, he thought, he and his sister had some ancestor, some lithe young man with onyx skin and legs as straight as cane stalks, who had a name that was real. A name given to him at birth with love and seriousness. A name that was not a joke, nor a disguise, nor a brand name." - Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

There’s so much to say about this book. Someone described it as kalei
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those not afraid of singing to the past
Shelves: read-in-2014, dost
Have you ever considered the historical heritage and the intrinsic meaning of your name and surname? What is a proper noun if not a word that carries concentrated quintessence to depict oneself? Aren’t people named after parents or grandparents paying homage to their own ancestry somehow?
There is something miraculous about the past that the future lacks. All nations, maybe even the whole mankind, have managed to transform thousands and millions of particular fictions created by individual beings
Barry Pierce
Almost four whole months into 2015 and I've finally read my first four-star book. You can always trust Toni Morrison to deliver even when you think all hope is lost. I think Song of Solomon is my favourite Morrison novel thus far. This novel just flows with greatness. I feel that I enjoyed this book more than let's say, Beloved, because the time period in which this is set (the 1930s through to the 60s) is an era with which I'm relatively familiar. She references the murder of Emmett Till and th ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Song of Solomon begins and ends with a leap, a man hurling himself into the air, an act of surrender. Book-ended between these (attempted) acts of flight, a rich and beautiful work of literature slowly, gradually, takes wing.

This is the fifth Toni Morrison book I’ve read (after Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Home and Sula), and I think of these five, Song of Solomon is the one that asks the most of its reader. It’s not a book that enchants immediately. The characters – at least in the beginning –
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Read it. Loved it. Did not, by any means, understand all of it. I don't know what sphere Morrison was writing from but damn, that woman knew how to tell a compelling story.

HOW DID SHE COME UP WITH THIS PLOT THO??? I am so confused, yet so in awe. I'll literally need a million years before I can sit down and write a proper review for this book. My head feels like it has just exploded.
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, recs
Sprawling and epic, Song of Solomon paints a vibrant picture of Black social life across midcentury America. The coming-of-age novel follows Milkman Dead, a Black man caught in arrested development, as he journeys from his hometown in Michigan to rural Pennsylvania and Virginia in a quest for legendary gold, after a youth full of waste, indecision, and wealth. As he searches for gold, Milkman overcomes hardships of all kinds, learns about his heritage, and matures; all the while he’s pursued by ...more
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
― Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon


I liked all of it and loved much of it. It is an amazing piece of literature with beautifully realized characters. Originally, I felt this book was on par with The Bluest Eye, but still not as strong as Beloved. I now think they are ALL great Morrison novels. The further I get from this book, the bigger and the bolder the shadow it casts. I love how Morrison writes and how she juggles big themes (d
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epic-sprawling
One of my absolute favorites, partly for the following:

"You can't own a human being. You can't lose what you don't own. Suppose you did own him. Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don't, do you? And neither does he. You're turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why

There's something to be said for stories. Beyond all the talk of clichés, the bemoaning of stereotypes, the intricate and obsessive breakdown of the latest wave of hyped-up mass media extravaganza that has managed to aggressively worm its way into the mob conscience. Beyond the deep-seated resignation at puzzle-piece popularity.

I don't have anything against the forthright advocates of analysis at all levels of fiction. Far from it. I simply believe that there is a time when one is able to p
B. P. Rinehart
[08/06/2019 Update]: Toni Morrison has died and while I engage in my usual requiem-ritual of listening to Al Green's Take Me To The River, I immediately came back to my experience reading this book. Though she's dead what's important is that we still have her books, her words, and the site of her memory. I read this book back in 2015 and she immediately became an old friend. Not one for modesty, her work is an authentic and commanding portrait of human life. This book in particular was my world ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: usa, 2019-read
It’s pretty apparent why this novel is considered a masterpiece, the three stars only reflect my personal enjoyment of the text which was, frankly, limited – I wasn’t really invested in the characters, but again, that’s more a matter of personal taste. The eponymous “Solomon” in the text is the great-grandfather of the protagonist who escaped back to Africa because he couldn’t bear the condition of enslavement, leaving behind his 21 children and his wife; the biblical Solomon was the wise king o ...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to brian by: michelle, mindy, sandi, jessica treat, dfj, yvette, ruth, alisa,
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a criminal amount of oversimplification I will simply say that Song of Solomon is a perfect novel that has reached a higher level of perfection in my mind during this reread. I'm not sure how many more years of reading I have left, but I'm sure it will take a long time for me to read any work of literature that is better than this.

I'll post some specfic 2019 thoughts soon, but in the mean time, my thoughts from my initial read in February of 2018 is below.
Michael Finocchiaro
Song of Solomon is a gorgeous work of fiction and a masterpiece of storytelling. Not as dark as her first two books, The Bluest Eye, Sula, it is more upbeat, but every bit as complex and rewarding. The leitmotif here is the stripping of layers from childhood mythology to reality as Milkman, the protagonist goes on a psychological journey to discover himself and understand where his family came from.

The story takes place in an unnamed town (probably Marquette) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Apr 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Toni Morrison is perhaps the most important writer living today and Song of Solomon is perhaps the best novel of the last 50 years of American life. Despite the high standing of both novel and author, there are many that chide both for delving too far into the world of African American mythology. The book, according to a reviewer on this very website, bitterly states that Song of Solomon is more fable than novel. Attempting to paint the novel as fable undercuts its central mission: to highlight ...more
Song of Solomon is a timeless classic and coming-of-age tale as told as only Toni Morrison can do in this moving and lyrical novel. I was so moved by the author's Forward to the book where she talks about the death of her father stressing that even in the grip of the unmanageable sadness and grief, that each of his four children was convinced that he loved him or her best by the gifts he shared with each throughout their lives, and how he spoke to each in the language only they understood. Toni ...more
Read By RodKelly
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Song of Solomon is the most brilliant novel ever written. It is a miracle of voice and style, as is typical of Toni Morrison's prolific œuvre of literary works, but also, it is epic and lyrical and thrilling to read in a way her other novels do not come close to. Written chronologically, from the perspective of one character, Macon "Milkman" Dead, SoS is, on the surface, a perfect bildungsroman; our hero grows up and encounters difficulties that ultimately leave him at a crux where he must go on ...more
Song of Solomon is the book that propelled Toni Morrison to literary fame. Published ten years earlier than 'Beloved', I much preferred the earlier work, although both deserve a re-read as both works are multi-layered and reluctant to give up all their secrets with just one reading.
SoS is the generational saga of Macon Dead III, or Milkman, and his dysfunctional family. At first, a bildungsroman of sorts, it is the story of his family in Michigan from the time of his birth in the 1930's to adult
Jul 22, 2007 rated it liked it
I would like to have given a lower rating because I simply did not enjoy the read, but there is a value to this book that I cannot deny. Powerfully written, and has great cultural insight and thought. But really, I couldn't relate very well -- perhaps that is the point in many cases. I can't explain it much better without spending more time looking at it again than I'd like to, so I'll leave it at this:

I felt enlightened. I felt like shit. All without feeling very invested.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Milkman's father, the man with the weird name and mysterious past, teaches his son to 'own things'. His sister is 'wild', she inhabits the opposite pole. Ownership does not occur to her. When a kind woman brings her cherry jam on white bread, she weeps because the fruit she loves for the taste of sun and earth exploding, the feel of stalk and stone and bark-scraped knees, has lost these elements that forge the relationships between self and world and being that have nothing to do with property, ...more
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


In The Source of Self-Regard, Morrison says of this work: “…into these spaces should fall the ruminations of the reader and his or her invented or recollected or misunderstood knowingness.” During this reread, my “recollected or misunderstood knowingness” landed on clues—fairytale elements—I choose to believe Morrison scattered as a key to the subversive, communal, familial folksong that arrives later in her narrative.

In the first chapter Ruth, nursing her son who’s nicknamed Milkman, t
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-literature
2017: This is the first 5 star read of the year that wasn't a reread! I'm really surprised and relieved that my first Toni Morrison was a huge success. I had assumed that her books would be too dark for me (and I think some of them might be), but SOS turned out to be just the right book for me. This novel has a parcel of amazingly odd characters who you want to hear more and more about. I would classify this as magical realism because the idea of magic hovers all throughout this text. The main p ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first experience with Toni Morrison's writing and it was probably not the usual entry point, most people seeming to start with Beloved or The Bluest Eye . However, for me it ended up being an enjoyable if slightly perplexing introduction.
I found Song of Solomon more accessible than I had anticipated and I had a cracking good time reading it for the most part. The characters and dialogue really sing (;) and there are some startlingly good set pieces that are emblazoned in my memo
Oct 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tried this once and couldn't get past the first chapter. I stopped for 2 weeks and decided that I had to read it so I can get rid of it faster. (Not a good reason to read anything right?) But it slowly started to get better after that second chapter.

It was a coming to age story but not really. It was about family and how you get a nickname in the North hood and how it sticks in the community hence the main character, Milkman. Someone saw him suckling his mother's teat at an age where he was s
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: discoverers
**In these brief moments I have of electricity and internet, through this Irma craze, I present my reading thoughts...**

“Fly and mercy,” Toni Morrison writes in the foreword of this book. “Both terms are central to the narrative: flight as escape or confrontation; mercy the unspoken wish of the novel’s population.”

Flight as a theme was abundantly clear to me at first read: Pilate, the shunned woman without a navel, who uses flight as a means of survival; Macon Dead, her money-conscious brother
Jul 24, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could_not_finish
I love Toni Morrison, I really do, but this book reads like a standard lemon of a workshop story: every character has both an eccentric name and some striking characteristic. This one has no navel, and this one is supernaturally lucky, and this one jumps off of buildings. And there is none of the assured economy of either Beloved or my personal favorite, Jazz. Here, we have to get every detail about every damned thing until I feel like I'm choking on the stuff of the book. ...more
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book takes me back to my college English classes, when I read so many books that were rich in beautiful language but poor in plot and action. There's no doubt that Morrison is a gifted writer, especially when it comes to down-to-earth, authentic dialogue. Her writing is poetic and lyrical without being abstract or fussy -- she describes real things, disgusting things, sadness and passion with an intense energy and verbal power.

But the plot of this book didn't grab me. I remember enjoying T
Bill Khaemba

For years I have heard Morrison's name float around, all the praises of how she approaches important social issues through a historical lens and I was so excited when I finally got my hands on this book.Following a black middle-class family through a pivotal moment in America history, we zoom in and explore the complex interactions with each other and the community. Through the last born's perspective, the reader uncovers some dark unsettling secrets that have haunted the family for generations

Apr 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: onmyshelf
Toni Morrison is an absolute master of prose rhythms and this book is beautifully written. It reads like great literature and one can see why she's deserving of her nobel prize. But I had a serious problem with this book (which I read over ten years ago so forgive me if my memory of it is vague). The first three quarters of the book are terrific. Written in a realistic style and capturing the modern lives of its characters. The final section of the book suddenly turns into a fable, and the main ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing

This beautifully written book about a black family living in Michigan has a little of everything - magic, ghosts, eccentrics, murderers, lovers, and more.

Jumping back and forth in time. it tells the story of Milkman Dead, who after growing up indulged and self-centered in a northern, industrial city comes to discover something of his ancestry and roots in the rural south. A fascinating story filled with wonderful interesting characters. 💖

Highly recommended to fans of literary fiction.
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Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford) was an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best k

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“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” 3549 likes
“You can't own a human being. You can't lose what you don't own. Suppose you did own him. Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don't, do you? And neither does he. You're turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can't value you more than you value yourself.” 677 likes
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