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A Mercy

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  17,188 Ratings  ·  2,392 Reviews
In the 1680s the slave trade in the Americas is still in its infancy. Jacob Vaark is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh North. Despite his distaste for dealing in “flesh,” he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland.
This is Florens, who can read and write and might be useful o
Hardcover, 167 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Knopf (first published 2008)
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Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to brian by: Ruth, Mike Reynolds
having never read toni morrison, i felt it could be a mistake to pick up her newest book, particular it being one so late in her career -- this can really be the kiss of death... i mean imagine judging bowie’s career after having only heard Tonight? or dylan’s after listening to Saved?

i resisted morrison for years -- saw her as kind of the literary equivalent of morgan freeman perpetually playing a variation of the ‘magical negro’… y’know, the wise, deep-voiced, saintly guy who pretty much exis
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-american
“It was there I learned how I was not a person from my country, nor from my families. I was negrita. Everything. Language, dress, gods, dance, habits, decoration, song– all of it cooked together in the colour of my skin.” – Toni Morrison, A Mercy

It’s the 17th Century, and slavery is still relatively new in the Americas. The people living there have either been brought there by force or have voluntarily gone there to start a new life. They are people with no roots in their new country, no famil
Jason Koivu
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Toni, Toni, feels good to know you again.

A Mercy is a gorgeous narrative of a dark time that flitters from person to person: child, slave, sympathetic Dutch businessman, mother. Betrayal is ever present, even seemingly from mother to child.

The setting and subject is slavery in 17th century America, specifically Catholic Maryland. These are early days in the New World. Superstition was rife. Black magic and the devil were palpably real.

With a bevy of glimpses Morrison displays most of
Dec 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Back in college I took a course on Colonial America because I had to. It was pretty tough for me to get into it at the time, since I never really gave a crap about that inaccessible and unglamorous period. I wish this book had been around in those days, because Morrison's efforts to describe that bizarre and confusing world might've helped me get better picture of the time, and therefore care more about what I was learning. To me, A Mercy really is incredible historical fiction that provides acc ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it

This story occurs in the late 1600s, during early days of slavery in America (that is, African people being used as slaves). By that time however, the tradition of using 'indentured servants' - essentially white slaves - was already well established.

In this tale, several slaves work on a small farm run by Jacob and Rebekka Vaark: Native American Lina - whose tribe has been decimated by disease; black child Florens - who was given away by her mother; and jinxed Sorrow, who seems to bring bad luc
Will Byrnes
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I was enthralled with the incandescent prose and moving voices of four women in this tale set on a remote farm in colonial New York in the 1690s. It was outstanding in the audiobook form read by the author, often sending chills up my spine with the vibrant power of its poetry. A major theme is how people harness love in all its forms and how they deal with the perception of betrayal. Another is the paradox of the foundation of the new world both on the hunger for freedom and on various forms of ...more
D. Pow
Aug 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
ميقات الراجحي
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
أولًا : بعيدًا عن الرواية لا تجعلوا دور النشر تخدعكم – خصوصًا العربية – بجملة الروائي الحائز على جائزة البوكر عام.... الروائي الحائز على جائزة البحر المتوسط عام …. الروائية الحائزة جائزة نوبل عام ….. هذا من باب العلم فقط وليس له علاقة بهذه الرواية. وفور مشاهدتكم لهذه الجملة أجعلوا الشك أول أمركم في العمل الذي بين أيديكم،

وعن الرواية لمن هم مهتمين بزمن العبودية وسيجدها طبعًا عند سادات العبودية في التاريخ الحديث حيث الولايات المتحدة الامريكية. لهدا تعود بكم الرواية لزمن الجذور. حيث القرن السابع عشر
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american
اگه پیش فرضتون راجع به این کتاب موریسون یه داستان کلیشه ای از برده داریه در اشتباهید. داستان در امریکای قرن هفده میگذره .کتاب رو میشه به خاطر چهار شخصیت اصلی فلورنس، ربه کا، سارو و لینا زنانه به حساب آورد ولی همزمان به خاطر صحبت کردن راجع به مفاهیم عمیق انسانی به مردان هم توصیه ش کرد. شاید ضدکلیشه ای ترین قسمت داستان ، ارباب شریفشه که از تجارت انسان بیزاره و با دیده حقارت و پستی بهش نگاه می کنه. اربابی که چهار دختر داستان رو در قالب همسر، خدمتکار، برده و یا حتی چیزی شبیه دختر خوانده دور هم جمع ک ...more
Jul 21, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Maybe it's the bitter taste Beloved left me with; Maybe it's that she comes off as the poor woman's Maya Angelou; Maybe it's just that no matter how much I want to like her writing, I just can't.

The first four chapters were confusing as hell and the remaining ones were disorienting. The POV's from chapter to chapter were so intertwined, I could barely remember who was talking and found myself constantly going back to the beginning of that particular chapter to double check. Not only that, but t
Dec 31, 2008 rated it liked it
From my youngest sister, who reads often and prefers "Austenish" lit: "It was confusing and hard to get into and I didn't like the ending, but I did like that we heard every person's side of events. I still like my picks "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and "The Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society" best."

From my middle sister, who is not a big reader and likes "family smut" (aka divorcee single mother who has had it hard and then finds love in the shape of a Tarzan woodsman living alone and horny in the
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Yes, I am a Toni Morrison fan and believe she is incapable of writing a bad book, but that doesn't mean I wasn't ready to be critical of her new book if necessary. It's not necessary. The beginning may seem slow (that never bothers me) as we are thrust into a world that is faraway in time, but real. Historical details never bog down; they are worn lightly, as a reviewer put it.

Reviewers have compared one character here to Sethe from "Beloved;" and though I see the parallel, this is a very differ
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, fiction, favorites
I love Toni Morrison, the way she holds out the dark truths of Americas past and forces the reader to look and while the themes here are the same as much of her other work this one is a bit more raw, not the writing which is beautiful as always, but here she just lays it all out in plain sight, here it is motherfuckers, And oh man does she really give it to Christianity good for its part in the oppression of women, slave trade, all around evilness, etc, so you know I was into that and I probably ...more
Nov 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature, 2009
Dear Ms. Morrison:

I just want you to know that I think you are a wonderful writer. I remember picking up a copy of The Bluest Eye back in 1990 because I was taking a stupid college course and we were required to read a book by a female author written after WWII. I chose your book because it was really short and I didn't want to put a lot of time into that assignment. I remember crying while reading it and wanting to take that little girl out of her miserable life and make her feel better about h
Nov 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
This was definitely not one of my favorites. I am usually a die-hard Morrison fan, but this one just wasn't up to par with her earlier works. Many people have compared this to Beloved, but I find that comparison unjust. This book, while it had its moments of brilliance, was inundated with dense, incomprehensible prose. At times, I was unable to decipher who was speaking and when. It just wasn't a good read for me.
Shaikha Alkhaldi
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
"لا تخف فلا يمكن أن تصيبك روايتي بأي أذى بالرغم ما قمت به. أعدك بأن أستلقي بهدوء في الظلام، ربما أو أرى من وقت لآخر الدم من جديد لكنني لن أثني أعضائي أبداً عن النهوض ولن أكشر عن أسناني".

بهذه الأسطر الغريبة بدأت "توني موريسون" روايتها التي ركزت على النساء ذو البشرة السمراء في زمن العبودية، عن الأم التي تقتل أو تبيع أولادها لتجنبهم شر الذل والفقر، عن الأم التي تتخلى عن ابنتها لتحميها من الفقر والاغتصاب، فترجوهم أن يأخذوا الإبنة. "ليس أنا، خذها، خذها، خذ ابنتي" .. فتشكر الأم ربها.
ثم كتبوا ورقة وافق
Edward Waverley
Feb 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anabel (inthebookcorner)
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
"You say I am wilderness. I am. Is that a tremble on your mouth, in your eye? Are you afraid? You should be."

Written in different POV's Morrison's writing is intricate, detailed, and requires close reading to be able to understand. A neo-slave narrative, that's less about slavery itself and more about the real brutality during this time: that to lose ones origins, kinship, and family is to lose ones sense of self.
Rod-Kelly Hines
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
I needed this. Morrison is always fascinating for me to read; I'm paying attention to the structure, the themes, the tone, and every nuance she wrings out of her perfect sentences.

This is one of her easier novels, one featuring a swirling ensemble of voices, all gazing at the harsh reality of a group of women living in 17th century America.

The whole novel is one fluid tapestry, quite intimate, with a subtlety that is rare for Morrison but which works so well here. She questions how, in a world
I really hate to only give 2 stars to a Toni Morrison book. My main problem with A Mercy (the audio version) was with the narration. Morrison chose to read the book herself, and I'm not sure how well it worked. She reads so slowly and pauses in the middle of sentences so often, it started to feel like an attempted poetry reading. For example, "Far away to the right (pause), beyond the iron fencings (pause), enclosing the property (pause) and softened by mist (pause), he saw Rosa Cortez, quiet (p ...more
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Before "A Mercy" came out, I had only read "Beloved", "The Bluest Eyes" maybe a year before. (I was out of the country for two years during the 70's --I don't remember reading much of anything during that time), when Toni Morrison had first established herself as a writer 'to read' -- A woman making a difference in the world!

Her writing is deeply felt --(reminding me --I've 2 other books in my house still 'to-read').
"Sula" and her later book "Love".

Her books about slavery reach deep below the
Nov 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Although the subject of "A Mercy" ie the interdependent lives of African slaves,Native Americans,indentured servants,free blacks,and whites in Catholic early Md.-this book was a bit disapppointing. It seemed as if Ms. Morrison wanted/had to crank out a book so did an "abbreviated" version of her usually phenomenal story-telling. the characters were 1/2 developed-almost but "no cigar" as was the story. Hey-Ms. Morrison has had an illustrious career-maybe next time???
Sentimental Surrealist
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sentimental Surrealist by: My mentor
So this isn't as overtly horrifying as other Morrison novels. With a theme of slavery, one rape implied and a second alluded to, and a late-game breakdown, this statement has more to do with how immensely fucked-up your average Toni Morrison novel is than anything else, but when you consider that other Morrison novels have featured parasitic ghosts, drowned children, murder cults and massacres, the bar for violence and mind games is high in Morrison and A Mercy might not seem to meet the bar. Th ...more
Dec 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novel
I'd never read Morrison before. This was interesting, but the style is a bit confusing. I'm not sure I was able to keep track of all of the characters.
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kesinlikle çok değişik, büyülü bir anlatımı vardı...
Aktıkça hikayenin büyüsü artmıştı... kederi şiir gibi sunmuştu yazar, içtikçe içesim gelmişti her satırı ...
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: educators, people who love deeper meanings
Recommended to kisha by: book club read
I read this with my book club African American Historical Fiction. This is a very hard one to rate and review. I found this story to be dry, mundane, unfascinating, and probably lacking 100 or so pages. This story represented a time rarely discussed, the 1600s. Knowing that alone bored me before even opening the first page. I was extremely surprised to find that the characters in this story were extremely underdeveloped. Honestly I didn't care for or about any of them. But it's funny what happe ...more
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
i'm an unabashed fan of Toni Morrison. she puts the creative in creative writing. which means her style is not for everyone, but i have yet to read a book of hers i didn't love. This particular book hit home for me in a surprising way. Surprising, perhaps, because i started reading it without knowing what it was about. It seems it was about my ancestors...People who ended up in America in the 17th century for one reason or another and mixed together--Europeans of various origins, Natives, and Af ...more
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is my first novel of this author and i was impressed by how she created a different language, voice for the different point of view characters. They all sounded like real women, men in US before there was US. She presented slavery in different forms and in a subtle way. It was not melodramatic as books about slavery in America can be. As a story the novel didnt grow, end as you expect but it seemed like telling a traditional story was not important to the author.

I liked reading about native
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African-American ...: A Mercy by Toni Morrison: June 1-June 30 160 63 Jul 09, 2014 12:19PM  
African-American ...: Book Blast: A Mercy by Toni Morrison 5 18 Jun 26, 2014 01:29PM  
Did anyone read this like it was Alice Walker? 2 22 Jul 24, 2013 07:36PM  
Literary Fiction by People of Color 3 50 Dec 15, 2012 12:06PM  
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Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford), is 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
More about Toni Morrison

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“I dream a dream that dreams back at me” 104 likes
“She learned the intricacy of loneliness: the horror of color, the roar of soundlessness and the menace of familiar objects lying still.” 84 likes
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