This book demonstrates once again that Morrison is more than the standard-bearer of American literature. She is our greatest singer. And this book is perhaps her most important song. Close your eyes and make a wish. Wish that one of the most informed, smartest, most successful people in your profession walks into your living room, pulls up a chair and says, 'This is what I’ve been thinking. … That’s The Source of Self-Regard ... the real magic is witnessing [Morrison's] mind and imagination at work. They are as fertile and supple as jazz.
In this collection of nonfiction written over the past four decades, [Morrison] reinforces her status as a piercing and visionary analyst of history, society, literature, language, and, always, race ... [Morrison's] analyses of the role of blackness in the white literary imagination and the limitations placed on black authors are affecting and will be particularly trenchant for those encountering them for the first time ... Where the book explodes into pure brilliance, though, is in Morrison’s comprehensive account of her own writing, from its origins in slave narratives, to its philosophical underpinnings, to its artistic influences ... The meticulous care with which Morrison constructs the prose of her magnificent fiction and elegant nonfiction make the sloppy editing of 'The Source of Self-Regard' that much more distracting. In a collection where so many pieces are occasional, providing the date and occasion of each piece alongside its title would have made reading and comprehension easier ... Yet despite its overflowing content, the book still inspires the desire for more. These pieces were written between 1982 and 2013, but only three in the last decade and none in the four years since Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president.
The book contains exhortations and transcribed question-and-answer sessions, reflections and analyses, exegeses and commencement talks. In other words, it’s a large, rich, heterogeneous book, and hallelujah ... With this book, one is tempted to quote at length from her words: her acuity and moral clarity are dazzling, but so is her vision for how we might find our way towards a less unjust, less hateful future ... one of the keenest pleasures of this book, especially for the many admirers of her fiction, will be the detailed explications of her own writing ... Morrison passes along...courage, in this book as in all her books ... [The Source of Self-Regard] is a bracing reminder of what words do, how carefully they should and can be used.