August 6, 2019: Toni Morrison, author of seminal works of literature on the black experience such as “Beloved,” “Song of Solomon” and “Sula” and the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize, has died.
She was 88.
Morrison’s novels gazed unflinchingly on the lives of African Americans and told their stories with a singular lyricism, from the post-Civil War maelstrom of “Beloved” to the colonial setting of “A Mercy” to the modern yet classic dilemmas depicted in her 11th novel, “God Help the Child.”
Her talent for intertwining the stark realities of black life with hints of magical realism and breathtaking prose gained Morrison a loyal literary following.
She was lauded for her ability to mount complex characters and build historically dense worlds distant in time yet eerily familiar to the modern reader.
Themes such as slavery, misogyny, colorism and supernaturalism came to life in her hands.
A decorated novelist, editor and educator — among other prestigious academic appointments, she was a professor emeritus at Princeton University — Morrison said writing was the state in which she found true freedom.
“I know how to write forever. I don’t think I could have happily stayed here in the world if I did not have a way of thinking about it, which is what writing is for me. It’s control. Nobody tells me what to do. It’s mine, it’s free, and it’s a way of thinking. It’s pure knowledge,” Morrison said.
She will be fondly remembered for all her efforts to bring black literature to surface and for the immense succcess.