Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning US author Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88.
Writers, artists, filmmakers, leaders and many others have paid tribute to the author of ‘Beloved’, and spoken of her importance to them.
Her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, confirmed that Morrison died at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Her family announced “with profound sadness” that Morrison had died following a short illness and wrote the following in a statement:
“Toni Morrison passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends. She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends.
“The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing,” it continued.
The author of 11 novels including ‘Beloved’ and ‘The Bluest Eye’, Morrison was also an editor, prolific literary critic, and activist. Morrison earned numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1988, and she was the first black American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.
Paying tribute, Barak Obama said: “Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while.”
Writer Roxane Gay wrote: “This is a devastating loss to the world of words, to our understanding of power and it’s reach, to the cultivation of empathy, to rich, nuanced, elegant storytelling. Her work was a gift to everyone who had the pleasure of reading her.”
Oprah Winfrey wrote: “She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller,”
Winfrey continued: “She was a magician with language, who understood the power of words. She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them.”
Morrison’s books including ‘Beloved’, ‘Song of Solomon’ and ‘Sula’ were seminal works of literature on the black experience. Her novels often covered themes like slavery, misogyny, colorism and supernaturalism.
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