The Most Addictive Books of the Last 25 Years
Because we'd read anything by Toni Morrison—but this one was music on the page.
Jazz is set in motion by a love triangle and a murder: Fifty-year old Joe Trace, who sells Cleopatra beauty products, takes a teenage lover, and then kills her in a fit of passion when she spurns him. Joe's wife, Violet, slashes the girl's face as she lies in her casket. But Morrison gives us so much more than a story of love (or sex) gone wrong, so much more than a story of forgiveness and healing. She gives us the world of Harlem in the 1920s; she gives us memory, history, race and desire entwined. The novel doesn't just evoke jazz; it is jazz, of the finest and most vibrant kind.