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Don Swaim Interviews

Audio Interview with Toni Morrison

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and author of The Bluest Eye, The Song of Solomon, Jazz, and Paradise, Toni Morrison joins Don Swaim in this 1987 interview to talk about her newest novel at the time, Beloved.

According to Swaim, Beloved makes you think. Swaim is accustomed to speed-reading through books in order to have them read by that time of his interview. The better written the story, he said, the harder it is to do that. For Beloved, he had to take his time and not rush through.

Beloved is Morrison’s fifth novel and her first historical novel, which deals with slavery. She normally does contemporary subjects, but this time she wanted to deal with a contemporary issue – the troubles facing women – by tracking it back in history. Beloved is the beginning of a cycle.

Despite the horrific details of her story, she could never write her story in anger. She needs clarity when she writes. But, she’s not aloof. She’s an artist. By that she means she puts all those emotions into a different caldron.

“What you want,” she said, “is the other person to feel the anger.”

To hear more about how she developed the main character in Beloved and more about her personal history, click on the link below.

Listen to the Toni Morrison interview with Don Swaim, September 15, 1987
(31 min. 02 sec.)

MP3 File

These files are for your personal use only.
Classroom use is permitted.
Redistribution is not permitted.

Listen in as Edgar Whan, Marilyn Atlas, and Vattel (Ted) Rose discuss The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Or read the transcripts the old-fashioned way. 


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For over a decade, many of the best writers of the English language found their way onto Don Swaim's daily two-minute CBS Radio show, Book Beat. His New York-based program was derived from longer interviews, sometimes 40-minutes in length. Found exclusively here, Wired for Books proudly webcasts these conversations in their entirety using RealAudio.

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