In Toni Morrison's first novel, she rhapsodizes on Cholly's unfortunate life, writing that only a musician can tap into the primal feelings he suffered, that words alone weren't up to the task. But her novel captures something that music cannot, that is the depth of time.
Thr Bluest Eye is written in waves of biography, the outcome already known from the beginning, but each character getting a carefully remembered history and clear line of development independent of the linear action. We go back in time to read about Cholly and Polly and Geraldine and Soaphead and others; their back stories interrupt the flow but give the context of the present time. even though the narrative is broken up like this, it's all woven in, and the characters in our eyes gain depths of experience and time.
i can't think of any opera where the linear narrative isn't the main driving force. Even in reflective arias that don't push forward the action, we never see characters back in time, only as they are presently and how they develop. Opera moves from present point to present point. Is it able to have a structure like this book?
in any case I see a lot of parallels to Faulkner here: writing about the poorest people with the richest prose, for one. The scene of Pecola going to the market combined with the scene of her going to Soaphead's brings to mind Dewey Dell in As I Lay Dying and her silence at the pharmacy, and her feelings of ostracization there. The mad dialogue at the end brings to mind Vardaman and his naive, run-on thoughts. The rape, incest, subjugation and poverty are all familiar to readers of Faulkner.