"The necessity of rendering the slave a foreign species appears to be a desperate attempt to confirm one's self as normal."
I finished this gem about "othering" in literature in two sittings. Morrison draws from U.S. slave narratives, antebellum literature, African literature and her own works to discuss how racial othering dominates the white literary imagination—and makes for very lazy narrative devices. Color, race, and "foreignness," for Morrison, are built-in plot anchors that reinforce cultural perceptions of blackness, and keep black people in their "place" in the white imagination. I especially loved Morrison's discussion of Camara Laye's The Radiance of the King, a 1954 novel that subverts literary tropes of Africa. I've never heard of Laye's novel before, but I really want to give it a read. The Origin of Others is a slim, focused book that deftly handles a wide scope of literary topics. It's a treat to read. 5 stars.
Review by Leila Green