Toni Morrison, (1931-...), an African American novelist, won the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature. The Nobel Committee cited Morrison for novels that give "life to an essential aspect of American reality." The committee also noted that she "delves into the language itself, a language she wants to liberate from the fetters of race. And she addresses us with the luster of poetry."
Morrison won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for BELOVED
(1987). The novel tells the story of a former slave tragically haunted by memories of her life in slavery and the baby she killed to save the child from that fate. BELOVED demonstrates Morrison's lyrical style, vivid characterizations, and ability to persuade readers to accept the unusual as real.
Morrison's first two novels, THE BLUEST EYE (1970) and SULA (1973), focus on the lives of black women and girls. In SONG OF SOLOMON (1977), a man learns that he must reject his father's self-centered materialism and discover strength in love for friends. In TAR BABY (1981), a black man and woman fail to sustain their relationship because of class differences. JAZZ (1992) is set in Harlem during the 1920's. It takes its themes from the power of jazz music. PARADISE (1998) is a symbolic novel about a confrontation between two all-black communities in Oklahoma. LOVE (2003) centers on the complex personality of the deceased owner of a resort hotel on the East Coast. Morrison also wrote a children's book, REMEMBER: THE JOURNEY TO SCHOOL INTEGRATION (2004).
Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, on Feb. 18, 1931. Her real name was Chloe Anthony Wofford. She married Harold Morrison in 1958. They were divorced in 1964. In addition to her novels, Morrison has published a collection of essays, PLAYING IN THE DARK (1992).
Nellie Y. McKay, Ph.D., Former Professor of American and Afro-American Literature, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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