Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.
Oprah Book Club® Selection, October 1996: In an effort to hide his Southern, working class roots, Macon Dead, an upper-class Northern black businessman, tries to insulate his family from the danger and despair of the rank and file blacks with whom he shares the neighborhood. The plan leads his son, “Milkman”–a named he earned after his mother nursed him well past the proper age–onto a path exactly opposite the one his father had hoped. Milkman is driven into the arms of a violent, lower-class woman, into a clandestine circle of blacks who repay white violence in kind and into an awareness that he can fulfill his own potential by understanding the mistakes of his ancestors as they relate to his own.