Perhaps the best way to describe Home is haunting. Toni Morrison’s latest book — a novel according to the publisher, but a novella at length and form — is devastatingly and deeply human. The novel tells the story of Frank Money, a Korean War veteran, reluctant to return to his hometown of Lotus, Georgia. Frank has wandered Seattle a year after being discharged from a desegregated army into a segregated America, battling the possibility that he is losing his mind. All the while, he is unable to hold a job, keep any money, or satisfy his girlfriend.
Returning to Lotus is a trial for Frank, who loses his two childhood friends in battle, and has no mother or father to return to. His sister and grandfather, alone, remain of his family and friends. It is to Lotus that he must return with his ailing sister Cee, “his original caring-for,” rescuing her from her naiveté and the circumstances of a segregated country. His return becomes an attempt, not only to save Cee, but himself — from the atrocities of war and the atrocities he faces as a colored veteran. He believes that “deep inside her lived my secret picture of myself — a strong good me.”
Home is tightly composed and visceral, full of short, yet powerful sentences. Threaded through the story are vicious reminders of American history. Frank uses a “Green Book,” an essential travelers’ guide for African Americans during his era, and encounters numerous passengers who have been bloodied and beaten for entering white establishments and public spaces. Morrison implicates us in the sickening nature of a segregated world, drawing light to the brutalities routinely inflicted on African-Americans: unsafe medical experiments, subjugation to random frisking by policemen, forced knife fights in lieu of dog fights.
Most chilling are Frank’s lapses in sanity, terrifying episodes of colorblindness, in which “the world became a black-and-white movie screen,” a distinct metaphor for the complexities of race.
In contrast to these disturbingly clear moments of racial injustice, Morrison presents the illiterate yet wise women of Lotus with "seen-it-all eyes" who tend to Cee after she has been violently injured. “They practiced what they had been taught by their mothers during the period that rich people called the Depression and they called life." These women bring Lotus to life, drawing Frank and Cee back to their origins and providing them a place of refuge. Lotus is home in its insular, protective graces, bearing witness to complex lives in a turbulent era.
Home encompasses the core of Morrison’s work with a brilliance and audacity that is as enthralling as it is passionate. Her new, angular voice reveals the nature of love and redemption with honesty and optimism.
Toni Morrison’s Home is rich with history and family ties, reverberating with the subtle weight that take us back to our origins, the places we always belong. This chicken pot pie is hearty and rich and reminiscent of home.
MARIAM'S HEARTY CHICKEN POT PIE
- 2 chicken breast halves (12 to 14 ounces each)
- 2 carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 5-6 chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 package frozen peas, thawed
- 1/2 package frozen corn, thawed
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- A little salt and ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Thyme or Italian seasoning and garlic powder
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (2%) milk
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 Pie Crust (homemade or store bought)
Sauté chopped chicken breast in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and lemon juice.
While chicken is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add carrots, onion, mushroom, lemon juice and thyme (or Italian seasoning), salt and pepper, and cook until carrots are crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer and thickens.
Remove from heat; stir in peas, corn, lemon juice, and chicken. Pour filling into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.
Cover with pie crust. Bake until golden and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Let potpie cool 15 minutes before serving.