By Colette Davidson, Contributor
Nobel Prize-winning American novelist Toni Morrison opened the Festival America on the outskirts of Paris on Friday, talking about her most recent novel, Home. Running this weekend through Sunday, September 23rd in the suburb of Vincennes, Festival America is an ode to North and South America's vibrant literary traditions. This year, for its tenth anniversary, the festival pays special tribute to South American writers, with a total of 74 authors from 13 countries represented. The four-day festival includes writing workshops, panel discussions, concerts, films, exhibitions and book signings by authors such as Louise Erdrich, Dave Eggers and Russell Banks. Nine of the 20 best young American authors, nominated by The New Yorker magazine, will also be present.
Addressing an excited crowd of fans, Morrison discussed the themes of redemption and home, central to her latest book and its main character Frank Money: an African-American, Korean War veteran who returns to a racist America in search of his manhood and, ultimately, his home.
"Everybody from America has come from somewhere else, except Native Americans," she said. "So the idea of home for Americans is fraught with yearning. It's a romantic place: a utopia, just out of reach."
All the characters in the book, including Money, "know something at the end of the book that they didn't know before. And that, for me, is redemption," said Morrison.
During her hour-long discussion, Morrison spoke candidly of her own experiences in America's deep south and the sense of solidarity and identity in black communities there. It is such personal experiences that continue to nourish each novel she writes. Asked about her next project, she laughed and said, "I don't know... I hope I finish it."
Morrison is scheduled to make two more appearances during the festival, where fans will have the opportunity to not only hear her speak but also get books signed. Book signings by additional authors will take place at the Salon du livre (book fair) located in front of the Vincennes Town Hall throughout the festival.
What: Festival America
September 20th-23rd, 2012
See the official website for tickets, location and other details
"Salon du livre": Friday, September 21: 2-8 pm; Saturday, September 22: 10 am-9pm; Sunday, September 23: 10 am-7 pm. Free for all visitors.