Published: Wed, August 07, 2019
Entertaiment | By Minnie Bishop

Nobel-winning author Toni Morrison dead at 88

Nobel-winning author Toni Morrison dead at 88

That reputation was enchanced when, in 1993, she became only the fourth woman and second black person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Prior to her prolific writing career, Morrison worked as a professor at the historically black Howard University and served as a senior editor at Random House for 16 years.

Her death was reported by the Associated Press, which cited publisher Alfred A. Knopf as saying she died Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in NY. Just when we most need to hear her voice, she is gone. She told an audience at the 92nd Street Y in NY that she wasn't happy with how most black books were being edited back then.

Oprah Winfrey made Morrison an unofficial laureate of her book club, choosing her work a record four times. Considered a pioneer, she wrote about the lives of African Americans, once saying, "If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it". Seated at her kitchen table, she fleshed out a story based on a childhood memory of a black girl in Lorain - raped by her father - who desired blue eyes.

The documentary, "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am", which gives an "artful and intimate meditation on the life and words of the acclaimed novelist' is in theaters now".

"And so even as Michelle and I mourn her loss and send our warmest sympathies to her family and friends, we know that her stories - that our stories - will always be with us, and with those who come after, and on and on, for all time".

Among her plethora of accolades, she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 for "Beloved" and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.

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Known for her searing and lyrical works about slavery and the history of African Americans, novelist Toni Morrison was widely regarded as one of the leading lights of USA literature and a champion for repressed minorities. Her novels command and demand our attention.

The late Toni Morrison poses after being awarded the Officer de la Legion d'Honneur, the Legion of Honour, France's highest award, during a ceremony at the Culture Ministry in Paris, France November 3, 2010.

She always kept blackness, black people, black life at the center of her creative work. "What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while".

Morrison once said: "We die". Toni Morrison took the word and turned it into a Song...of Solomon, of Sula, Beloved, Mercy, Paradise Love, and more. "That means she belongs for us here at Spelman, and no doubt elsewhere, as part of the African American literary canon, that is, an author who must be read". He also talked about the "prejudices of her nation" Morrison had to overcome "to claim a rightful place among the greats of American letters". She had no agent and was rejected by several publishers before reaching a deal with Holt, which released the novel in 1969.

Or, oh my god, here she is again on Charlie Rose, talking about the trouble with white identity: "If you can only be tall because somebody's on their knees, then you have a serious problem".

Activists and politicians like Stacey Abrams and Ilhan Omar also paid tribute to the writer, who Abrams called "a groundbreaking author". She and others in that generation "expressed their mission" by focusing on black lives, he said.

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