1993 | Toni Morrison
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"The deep bluesy sadness of this novel wails out of the pages as expressively as a saxophone," writes Digby Diehl of Toni Morrison's 1993 novel. Set in 1926, at the height of the Harlem renaissance, it follows the lives of the Joe and Violet Vace, who have moved from the South to escape the hardships of segregation. They find a city throbbing with the music that represents both artistic freedom and moral decline. Jazz is story of passion, jealousy, murder and redemption, of sex and spirituality, slavery, and liberation, country and city. It is a novel about rapture and anguish of being male and female and, above all, human. Like the music of its title, it is a dazzling lyric play on elemental themes, as soaring and daring as a Charlie Parker solo, as heartbreaking as the blues.