Niles-Maine District Library

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In Memoriam: Toni Morrison, 1931-2019

On August 5 novelist, poet, editor, and professor Toni Morrison passed away. She was 88 years old. 

Morrison was one of the rare authors whose creative output won her both commercial and critical acclaim. Her 11 novels, which include The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), and Beloved (1987), repeatedly made the New York Times best-seller list, appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s television book club, and were the focus of countless academic studies. With the publication of each new book, her fan base and literary stature solidified more and more. She earned accolades from almost every prestigious literary institution, as evidenced by her Nobel Prize for literature, her Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Humanities Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented by President Barack Obama.

During her six-decade career, Morrison also penned numerous poems, plays, children’s books, speeches, and a libretto for an opera. Morrison’s work, whether fiction or nonfiction, concentrated on African American life and culture, particularly on the lives of black women in America. Her luminous, poetic prose emphasized the importance of dignity and righteousness and touched readers around the world. 

Morrison expanded American literature by centering blackness in her narratives with great nuance, offering honest portrayals of the triumphs and traumas of characters who inhabit a world that tells them they do not matter. Her brilliant body of work will undoubtedly stand the test of time. But, perhaps, her most enduring legacy will be having paved the way for a generation of writers who are following in her footsteps to give voice to black humanity.

The Niles-Maine District Library has a variety of books, eBooks, audiobooks, and DVDs in its collection to help you honor Toni Morrison, one of the most accomplished and impactful authors in the history of American literature.

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