Black History Month

Why Odario Williams is a fan of the novel Jazz by Toni Morrison

The host of Afterdark on CBC Radio 2 selects a book written by a Black author that he loved reading.
Odario Williams is the host of Afterdark on CBC Radio 2. (Vintage/CBC)

It's Black History Month. Throughout February, CBC Books is asking CBC hosts to recommend a Black author or book written by a Black writer that is meaningful to them.

Odario Williams, host of Afterdark on CBC Radio 2, chose Jazz by Toni Morrison.

"Toni Morrison's books come across as one long poem. She has an incredible way with words and a unique talent. I'd say she is my favourite writer because her sentences flow like liquid. I'm currently reading Jazz again, for the third time, because it inspires my own writing. It helps me reset and forces me to think a little differently. Most of the time I'm barely following the plot! Instead, I'm just floating on top her fluid poetry.

"There's not one simple sentence in this book. Jazz is about southern country folk moving to a booming 1920s Harlem. It's about love, jealousy, community, purgatory, mental health and the wavy blues found on the inside. Toni Morrison had often said that she prefers to have the entire plot revealed on the first page, and have the language carry you through to the end. Morrison is not a novelist in my mind, she's a poet that writes books. She's also a master at subtly implementing African-American history into her tales, without it feeling like a textbook.

"Jazz was released in 1992; one year later she won the Nobel Prize in Literature. I love this book."

Odario Williams is a Guyanese-born entertainer, raised in Winnipeg, Man. Today, Odario resides in Toronto and is the lead vocalist for the award-winning hip-hop collective Grand Analog. Over the last decade, he has been a regular host on Radio 3. He's also guest-hosted The Signal, Radio 2 Top 20 and Weekend Morning.

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