Paradise Locked


In anticipation of this past week’s Hay Festival, fiction luminary Toni Morrison wrote an essay for The Telegraph examining the concept of paradise as it relates to race and class. The novelist locates the promise of this “Utopia for few” in both early black newspapers and the pursuit-of-happiness ethos that drives contemporary American life: unattainable yet easily imagined, at once highly visible and just out of reach. Morrison explains how her exposure to the racialized discourse of an exclusive heaven on earth informed her novel Paradise:

Unconstrained by the weary and wearying vocabulary of racial domination, the narrative seeks to unencumber itself from the limit that racial language imposes on the imagination…Not the “Come Prepared or Not At All” command to make sure you get a ticket before you enter a theme park; but an interrogation into the narrow imagination that conceived and betrayed paradise.

Roxie Pell is a student at Wesleyan University, where she writes for Wesleying and The Argus and tweets hilarious nuggets of pure wisdom @jonathnfranzen. More from this author →