Toni Morrison’s Legacy

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“This one hit hard,” The Times’s Parul Sehgal says about the death on Monday of the novelist Toni Morrison. “In so many ways, both on the page and off, she was a real North Star for a lot of us.”

Sehgal is joined on the podcast this week by her fellow book critic Dwight Garner and by Wesley Morris, a critic at large for The Times, to discuss Morrison’s work and legacy.

The journalist Sarah Broom also visits the podcast this week. Broom grew up in the vast but generally overlooked neighborhood of New Orleans East, in a shotgun house her mother owned from 1961 until the city tore it down in 2006, a year after it suffered structural damage from Hurricane Katrina. In her first book, the memoir “The Yellow House,” Broom looks back on the house, the neighborhood and her coming-of-age as the youngest in a family of 12 children.

“It was a fantasy, in a good way, I think,” she says on the podcast. “We lived on this cutoff end of a very long street. But it felt wonderful as a young kid, because it felt like being in the country. We had lots of land and lots of space to roam. You know, it was sort of a child’s fantasy, really. It wasn’t until I became older that I understood what it meant to be cut off in that way. But growing up and being in the house, with so many characters, it was immensely fun. … Growing up in the yellow house was interesting because it was a house that we couldn’t quite maintain. And I say ‘we’ because that’s the way that it felt. There were a lot of us. And my mother — my father died in 1980, when I was 6 months, so there was a lot for her to maintain on her own. And she couldn’t, quite. So to be in a place — it all became part of what it felt like to even live in the house. Living in New Orleans East was a similar feeling.”

Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Gregory Cowles, Tina Jordan and John Williams talk about what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

“Priestdaddy” by Patricia Lockwood

“Breath” by Tim Winton

“The Doll Factory” by Elizabeth Macneal

“Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret” by Craig Brown

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].

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