Why fans of Toni Morrison's The Origin of Others should read M. NourbeSe Philip's essay collection Blank

The Next Chapter columnist Motion says both books explore race, identity and power.
The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison and Blank by M. NourbeSe Philip look at race and identity. (Harvard University Press, BookThug)

This interview originally aired on Oct. 15, 2018.

American author Toni Morrison's The Origin of Others is a classic collection of essays that explore the concepts of race, identity and power. The Next Chapter columnist Motion suggests that if you're looking for a Canadian equivalent, you should check out M. NourbeSe Philip's essay collection Blank.

Toni Morrison's The Origin of Others

"Toni Morrison's The Origin of Others looks the concept of race and why that matters from a historical perspective. Throughout the book, she confronts the illusion of power through the process of inventing an 'other.' Many black writers and writers who have lived in states of migration or exile have talked about that whole concept of being the 'other.' What she's saying is that race is an invention that helps keep power structures in place —  but it is also found throughout art and, particularly, throughout literature. She threads a line of travel from pre-colonialism to current day globalization and does it masterfully."

M. NourbeSe Philip's Blank

"The multi-layered work of Blank by M. Norbese Phillip also looks at many of the themes we find in the origin of 'others,' including race, memory, migration, belonging, as well as the power and the impact of literature and art.

"Philip's book is very much a reflection of her own career and experience as a writer. This collection brings together both out-of-print essays and brand new reflections on the themes that she has been grappling with and challenging throughout her career."

Motion's comments have been edited for length and clarity.



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