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Toni Morrison: The End of an Era

Pearl Manandar

Posted on August 7, 2019 17:48

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Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, who transformed American literature, passed away this week.

One of the most iconic writers of our times has left us and gone forever. Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison passed away this week. It is ironic that I began reading Beloved this week, considered one of her greatest works. I had read the book a decade ago and this very week she has moved on to another world. She was 88.


Her love for literature and her own literary works that she created throughout her lifetime reflect the true grit and spirit of the black voice. She had a knack for weaving characters out of themes such as slavery and misogyny and brought them to life at a time when the modern reader wasn’t familiar with it. 

She worked as an editor for 20 years and was editing other people’s writings while working on her own novel. She published the novel when she turned 40 and went on to write a dozen books thereafter. She also taught at prestigious institutions, including Princeton University. It was during her teaching stint that she first wrote a short story about a girl who believed that her impoverished circumstances in life could be better if she had blue eyes. "The Bluest Eye," "Sula," "Song of Solomon," and "Tar Baby" unflinchingly depicted the lives of African Americans. Morrison's talent for written prose gave her a loyal following.


The most lauded of all her books is Beloved, considered a masterpiece by many literary giants. The story is about a mother who kills her baby to save her from turning into a slave. The book was also adapted into a film with Oprah Winfrey essaying the role of the protagonist. Most of her books have been included in college curricula in the United States and abroad, which was also my first introduction to her work.


She encountered some personal tragedies in her lifetime when her house was burned down and she lost her son to cancer. That was the same year she was awarded the Nobel Prize - the first to be won by an African American woman for literature (and one of Toni Morrison’s many firsts in her career).

 

She was not only a captivating story teller but also a great human being. She once said that writing was the only thing she had done for herself and the only space where she didn’t have to answer anybody. She has been and will be an inspiration to many aspiring writers across the globe. Her legacy continues through her novels and writing. I leave you all with one of her quotes on writing which will keep the writer in me alive:


“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”

 

Farewell Toni Morrison. Rest in peace.

Pearl Manandar

Posted on August 7, 2019 17:48

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Nobel literature laureate Toni Morrison is collecting another prestigious prize

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