Toni Morrison, essayist and author notable for winning the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988, has died after a brief illness. She was 88.
Her family announced this in a statement on Tuesday.
“It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well-lived life,” they said.
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Indeed Morrison’s life was well-lived. A prolific author, her works centered on the lives of African-Americans and told their stories with such gritty realism that they resonated with her readers. She wrote 11 novels and enjoyed a career spanning over six decades.
An educator, novelist, and professor emeritus during her lifetime, she described writing as the medium through which she expressed herself best.
“I know how to write forever. I don’t think I could have happily stayed here in the world if I didn’t 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,” she said.
Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for her 1987 novel “Beloved”. She went on to receive numerous other awards including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.
Tributes have been pouring in for the author.
In a statement, former President of the United States Barack 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.”
“Toni Morrison will always be one of the greatest of all times. A culture changer. A literary monarch. She was a force that made readers see life through her eyes…our eyes. Thank you, God for her unapologetic style. She shared it with grace. Rest In Power”, said Regina King.
My mom still talks about Toni Morrison coming to our house. R.I.P. to this legend pic.twitter.com/IZ7iQuGwJO
— Jonathan Frakes (@jonathansfrakes) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison's powerful writing taught us all new ways to lead, new ways to fight, and reminds us of the humanity in others. As I think about her passing, her words fill me with hope. “Your life is already a miracle of chance waiting for you to shape its destiny.” https://t.co/5fFf7u5DeH
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 6, 2019
‘Toni reached us deeply, using a tone that is lyrical, precise, distinct, and inclusive.’ — President Obama gave Toni Morrison the ultimate tribute while awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. Morrison died today at 88.
Rest well! 🙏🏾pic.twitter.com/XrKYLo2NIf
— FierceWarriorNStilettos (@InactionNever) August 6, 2019
I’ve only read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison but the experience was life changing 💙 what an amazing woman 🌹
— olly ✨ (@alexander_olly) August 6, 2019
MAY HER SOUL REST IN PERFECT PEACE!