Key Facts about Beloved
The critical response to Toni Morrison’s Beloved was overwhelmingly positive. So powerful was the reception of her book that when it was nominated and passed over for the National Book Award, 48 African-American authors wrote a letter of protest which appeared in The New York Times in 1988.
Beloved did win Pulitzer Prize for Fiction later that year. It also won the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award as a powerful tribute to the legacy of a fight for freedom and justice. The book has won many other prestigious awards.
Since the novel has been so critically important, it has also been the site of tremendous scholarly debate and discussion. Among the issues and themes that scholars have wrestled with is the theme of memory as it is portrayed in Beloved. Most significant in Morrison’s novel is the way memory is both the only access to the past even as it is an unreliable source of the past.
Thus the term “rememory” has been coined to talk about how memories and the way we remember things are constantly re-fashioned after events which come after the specific event in the past.
Made into a film in 1998 by Jonathon Demme, it was produced by and stars Oprah Winfrey.
Beloved was also made into a 10-part radio drama by the BBC in England in 2016.
The novel is based on the true story of an escaped slave, Margaret Garner, who escaped to Cincinnati, Ohio which was a free state. Cincinnati was a major stop on what became known as the Underground Railroad, the route to freedom for so many people who escaped slavery. The Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, the setting for the novel.