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New York Times
3 Jun 2023

NextImg:On Reading ‘Beloved’ Over and Over Again

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For readers, a book’s meaning can change with every encounter, depending on the circumstances and experiences they bring to it each time. On this week’s podcast, Gilbert Cruz talks to Salamishah Tillet, a Pulitzer-winning contributing critic at large for The Times, about her abiding love for Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved” — in which a mother chooses to kill her own daughter rather than let her live in slavery — and about the ways that Tillet’s personal experiences have affected her view of the book.

“I was sexually assaulted on a study abroad program in Kenya.” Tillet says. “And when I came back to the United States, I entered an experimental program that helped people who were sexual assault survivors, who were suffering from PTSD. Part of the process was like, you had to tell your story over and over again, because the idea was that the memory of the trauma is almost as visceral as the moment of the trauma. And so … looking at what Morrison does in her novel, she’s dealing with trauma and she’s moving, going back and forth in time. So I actually experienced this on a personal level.”

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