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"You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down." - Toni Morrison.
A noble laureate in literature, Toni Morrison was an African-American novelist, editor, essayist, and professor emeritus passed away at the age of 88. With her death on Monday, August 5, writers from across the globe grieved on the loss of this literary mother. Her death was announced by Alfred A. Knopf, Morrison's publisher, who said that she died because of pneumonia related complications.
Toni Morrison's Life And Works
Toni Morrison was among those renowned American authors whose books not only gained a critical success but commercial success as well. She was a longtime professor at Princeton and was often seen on television giving lectures. Many times her novels won the tag of the New York Times best-seller and were featured on Oprah Winfrey's television book club.
Ms Morrison played an important role in bringing black literature to the mainstream. Her first novel was 'The Bluest Eye' , published in the year 1970 when she was thirty-nine years old and was also raising two children alone. The book was about racism in the US and tells the story of a black girl who developed low self-esteem because of oppressive society, which had a devastating impact on her.. This book had a message to the world , that one needs to understand Africans and their true beauty. In 1975, Toni published her second novel 'Sula', which was about friendship and bonding between two black women. Her another novel 'Song of Solomon' became the first best novel written by a black writer after Richard Wright's Native Son.
Morrison was also a teacher at Rutgers University and the State University of New York. Not just that, she was also a play writer and had written her first play 'Dreaming Emmett' which was first performed in the year 1986.
Tony Morrison was mainly known for her ghost novel 'Beloved' which is based on a true story of Margaret Garner, an enslaved African-American women. The book was a critical success and even the bestseller for 25 weeks. In one of the reviews, she was mentioned as a versatile writer whose emotional writing range knows no bounds. Her three books often known as 'Beloved Trilogy' won her Nobel Prize in Literature and she became the first black women for been awarded the prize.
It was Morrison's passion for writing that expanded the range of the American literature as a living black lady. She used to tell her writing students at Princeton University "I don't want to hear about your little life, OK?" as she wanted them to think creatively and write from different other aspects not just about their own lives. She didn't even want to write about her own life in an autobiography.
She had also written books on children with the help of her younger son who died in the year 2010 due to pancreatic cancer. This incident stopped her from completing the book but later, in the year 2012, she completed the book 'Home', which she dedicated to her son named Slade Morrison. Her eleventh book was 'God help the child' based on a dark-skinned bride's trauma.
Morrison has has also focussed pm feminism in her novels as they were mainly focussed on black women. In a 1998 interview, Morrison mentioned, "I don't subscribe to patriarchy, and I don't think it should be substituted with matriarchy. I think it's a question of equitable access, and opening doors to all sorts of things".
Awards And Nominations
There is a list of awards won by Morrison. Some of her awards are as follows:
- 1975: Ohioana Book Award for Sula
- 1988: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Beloved
- 1977: National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon
- 1993: Nobel Prize for Literature
- 2002: 100 Greatest African Americans, list by Molefi Kete Asante
- 2012: Presidential Medal of Freedom
- 2009: Norman Mailer Prize, Lifetime Achievement
- 2016 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction
- Commander of the Arts and Letters, Paris
- Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children (2008)