by Toni Morrison is the late, great writer’s one and only short story, first written in 1980 and republished this year as a standalone piece, with an illuminating new introduction by Zadie Smith. The story tracks the friendship of two young women, one white and one Black, as they meet during a brief stay as wards of the state at a dour institution called St. Bonadventure. The girls are in care because Twyla’s mother “dances all night” and Roberta’s mother is sick, yet they make friends and make the best of things. Over the years, as both women weave through the 1960s and 1970s, their lives diverging, they meet again for a few emotionally and racially charged interactions. There’s one catch, though: Morrison never reveals which girl is white and which girl is Black, playing on the assumptions and the racial codes that underpin American society, making the reader, as Smith’s introduction puts it, “the subject of the experiment.” A short but fascinating must-read.