Toni Morrison, celebrated author of at least 30 books, has passed away, the BBC reports today.
Image via People
Morrison’s most famous novels include The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon, and Beloved won both the Pulitzer Prize and The American Book Award in 1988. Morrison won more than 30 across her 40 year writing career, including the Nobel Prize for Literature, Commander of the Arts and Letters, Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, and honors from several prominent universities. Morrison is quoted, as well, on The National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
Toni receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama, April of 2012 | Image via BBC News
Toni Morrison was a senior editor at Random House for 20 years before becoming a professor at Princeton, and held teaching positions at many prestigious universities, including Yale, Bard, and Rutgers.
Morrison’s death was confirmed by her family this morning, after a brief illness. She leaves behind a sorrowful family and a monumental legacy of massive contribution to the literary cannon. Toni’s words were an inspiration for women and people of color across the world.
Morrison was 88, and passed away peacefully in her sleep. She will be missed dearly.
Two cultural icons, Oprah Winfrey and Toni Morrison, will soon meet in honor of Morrison’s body of work. Morrison will be bestowed with The Center for Fiction’s ‘Excellence in Fiction’ award, which Winfrey will present at the Center’s ceremony on December 11th.
Image via Writer’s Room at the Betsy
The Center for Fiction is “the only nonprofit literary organization in the U.S. solely dedicated to celebrating fiction.” The event is co-chaired by Lee Child and Michael Ondaatje, and will also honor Sonny Mehta, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group with the Maxwell Perkins Award.
Image via Bleatives
Oprah and Morrison have had a long-standing close relationship ever since Oprah produced and starred in a film adaptation of Morrison’s novel, Beloved, for which she received incredible praise.
Image via Getty Images
Featured Image Via NBC 5 and Writer’s Room at the Betsy
Toni Morrison is one of the most beloved and revered names in literature, and on November 17th, Princeton University honored her in the most incredible way – her own building. “This is a very, very special, beautiful occasion for me,” said Morrison during the dedication ceremony for Morrison Hall.
Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber noted Morrison’s rich history with the school, which dates back to 1989 when she first began her role as a professor and Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities for the school.
“How fitting that the first building named through this process will now honor a teacher, an artist and a scholar who not only has graced our campus with the highest imaginable levels of achievement and distinction, but who has herself spoken eloquently about the significance of names on the Princeton campus,” said Eisgruber.
Morrison Hall | Image via Princeton University
Toni Morrison is the first black woman to win a Nobel Prize in literature, due to her honest, unapologetic style of storytelling. Her work often revolves around real events in history, and she has played a major role in bringing black literature to mainstream America.
In honor of one of our favorite authors, here are 10 of our favorite Toni Morrison quotes!
1. “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.”
2. “Anger … it’s a paralyzing emotion … you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don’t think it’s any of that — it’s helpless … it’s absence of control — and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers … and anger doesn’t provide any of that — I have no use for it whatsoever.”
3. “Love is never any better than the lover.”
4. “She was the third beer. Not the first one, which the throat receives with almost tearful gratitude; nor the second, that confirms and extends the pleasure of the first. But the third, the one you drink because it’s there, because it can’t hurt, and because what difference does it make?”
5. “You’re turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can’t value you more than you value yourself.”
6. “It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.”
7. “You do not deserve love regardless of the suffering you have endured. You do not deserve love because somebody did you wrong. You do not deserve love just because you want it. You can only earn – by practice and careful contemplations – the right to express it and you have to learn how to accept it.”
8. “There is really nothing more to say – except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.”
9. “A dream is just a nightmare with lipstick.”
10. “The hopelessness that comes from knowing too little and feeling too much (so brittle, so dry he is in danger of the reverse: feeling nothing and knowing everything.)”
If you missed out reading the classics in high school or college, then you’re probably not motivated to pick any of them up. Unless a teacher is going to fail you for not reading East of Eden (which is roughly 600 pages), then you’re probably just not going to read it. Which would be unfortunate, by the way, because that book is juicy as hell.
Not every classic is intimidatingly long, though. Here are some classic books that are surprisingly short (which, for the purposes of this list, is 250 pages or less).
Whether you’ve read it or not, A Christmas Carol has probably wiggled its way into your psyche. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come probably walk around your imagination during the holiday season. At less than 100 pages, you might as well curl up on a cold December night and knock this one out.
Night is one of the few classics that’s 100% earned its place as a high school requirement. At 120 pages, there’s no excuse not to read Wiesel’s autobiographical account of how he survived his time in concentration camps. It’s a tale of suffering, cruelty, and, in a way, resiliency. It’s not great for the faint-hearted, but it’s necessary.
Toni Morrison’s classic follows Pecola Breedlove’s quest to fit in despite the color of her skin and brown eyes. It was Morrison’s debut novel, but she tackled heavy issues like race, beauty, and alienation. At a slim 224 pages, put this on your to-read list!
This one is actually two-for-the-length-of-one! ‘Franny’, a short story, was first published in 1955 and Zooey, a novella, in 1957. But they’ve since been published together as Franny and Zooey. The stories follow the two siblings of the Glass family, who were a particular obsession of Salinger’s. Jump into the mind of Salinger with this tale of family drama!
Long John Silver! Billy Bones! Jim Hawkins. Okay, the last one is kind of lame. This classic tale of swashbuckling and seafaring sits at a cozy 240 pages. Between its brevity and exciting tales of piracy, you might be able to finish this on your next day off!
Opening with the main character’s death, Spark’s masterpiece tells the strange story of Lise’s last day alive. It’s a classic among fans of the strange and unsettling. If that’s not your thing, it’s only 112 pages. You might as well give it a try.
It was back in the Spring of 2016 that Morrison delivered a series of Norton Lectures within Harvard University touching on subjects of race, literature, human fears, and social movements. Now those lectures have become six essays stitched together in one eye-opening volume.
Image Via CNN
Morrison takes a hard look at the concept of otherness within her own novels, such as Beloved and Paradise. She pulls from the rich history of setbacks and victories of race in America. She also looks at the nineteenth-century efforts to romanticize slavery in the literary world. By drawing on Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner, among other authors, Morrison is able to provide various viewpoints a megaphone.
Once again she gives us something that will launch our thoughts back in time while still firmly aware of contemporary issues.