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Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Whose Novels Chronicled The African American Experience, Dies at 88

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Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Whose Novels Chronicled The African American Experience, Dies at 88

Toni Morrison, a Nobel laureate and Pulitzer winner whose fiction was a literary barometer of the African American experience, has died at 88.

Morrison died Monday, according to her publishing company, Alfred A. Knopf.

“We die. That may be the meaning of life,” the company said on Twitter, quoting Morrison’s 1993 acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature. “But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

Morrison’s works included her best-known, 1987’s “Beloved,” the story of a slave, Margaret Garner, and the ghost of her daughter. It was a New York Times bestseller and the first of a trilogy that also included “Jazz,” and “Paradise.”

“Beloved,” which won wide critical acclaim, was made into a 1998 movie starring Oprah Winfrey.

“She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller,” Winfrey said Tuesday in an Instagram post.

Other well-known Morrison novels included “Sula,” “Song of Solomon,” “Tar Baby” and “Home.”

“Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page,” former President Barack Obama said in a statement Tuesday.

“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.”

Morrison, who was in her late 30s when she published her first novel, became the first black woman to win the Nobel for literature, after having won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama in 2012.

Morrison, born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, near Cleveland, was the daughter of a welder and domestic worker. She attended Howard University and later went to work in the textbook division of Random House Publishing.

She rose to become a respected book editor there, nurturing the emerging careers of other authors before beginning her own.

Morrison, who lived in Grand View-on-Hudson, New York, died at Montefiore Medical Center from complications of pneumonia, according to the hospital.

Photo by West Point via Wikimedia

Posted-In: Toni MorrisonNews Best of Benzinga

 

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