Born in Lorain, Ohio, in 1931, Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, the first African American woman to be so honored. A major focus of her work is the reinterpretation of key events and periods in African American women's history. Within this framework, her fiction explores themes such as race, gender, redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness, love, and desire. To date, she is the author of nine novels, including one of the most significant trilogies in modern American literature.
Morrison's trilogy, consisting of Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), and Paradise (1997), spans 150 years of African American history. While the conventional historical saga usually charts a sequential narrative through generations of the same family, Morrison's trilogy consists of three very different novels, each located in an important period in black history. In its scope and form, Beloved is generally regarded as her most ambitious refocusing of history, in this case an exploration of slavery in nineteenth-century America from a black woman's perspective. But to fully understand this aspect of Morrison's work, it is important to recognize the way in which her novels juxtapose events from different periods of history and weave literary and historical allusions, myths, fables, and cultural anecdotes together.