Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

3 of 9
160 pages; Knopf
Tormented by the atrocities he witnessed while fighting in the Korean War, Frank Money, the central character of Toni Morrison's profound novel Home (Knopf), returns to a racist America where there's little sanctuary for a deeply traumatized black veteran. He suffers hallucinations and bouts of rage; he drinks too much. Worse yet, he's plagued by a deep-seated apathy that drives away the good woman he loves. Without a mission, Frank drifts aimlessly like a "haunted, half-crazy drunk." But when his fragile younger sister, Cee, falls victim to a white doctor who is using her body to run near-fatal reproductive experiments, the hero within Frank is awakened. "She was the first person I ever took responsibility for," he says. "Down deep inside her lived my secret picture of myself—a strong, good me..." Morrison's portrayal of Frank is vivid and intimate, her portraits of the women in his life equally masterful. Its brevity, stark prose, and small cast of characters notwithstanding, this story of a man struggling to reclaim his roots and his manhood is enormously powerful.
— Stephan Lee