Michael Ondaatje is the author of several novels and books of poetry including The English Patient (1992), Running in the Family (1982), The Cat’s Table (2011), and Warlight (2018). (December 2019)

NYR DAILY

Toni Morrison’s Democracy of Vision

Archibald Motley: Nightlife, 1943

We are always participating when we read Toni Morrison. During a quiet lull, the Narrator will remember—“And another damn thing!” Or in the middle of a flashback, she will parse a gesture—“That is what makes me worry about him. How he thinks first of his clothes, and not the woman… But then he scrapes the mud from his Baltimore soles before he enters a cabin with a dirt floor and I don’t hate him much anymore.” It’s those Baltimore soles, and the precision of “much anymore.” And besides, who else but Toni Morrison will interrupt a flashback?