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When Toni Morrison Won The Nobel Prize


In this excerpt from “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” Toni Morrison tells the story of going to Stockholm to accept the Nobel Prize. “I like the Nobel Prize. Because they know how to give a party,” she said. A film by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.


(bouncy music) - I like the Nobel Prize, because they know how to give a party.

I am telling you, it was so great.

They wake you up with reads, flowers, music, but it was light, you know, it wasn't like the Nobel Prize.

It was light and lovely and warm.

(bouncy piano music) - Toni loves this kind of thing.

I mean, not that there's a lot of kinds of things like the Nobel Prize, but Toni loves things like this.

Toni loves prizes.

She loves presents.

I have a birthday party, don't know presents.

Toni birthday party you better bring a present.

(uplifting music) She decided that I'm bringing a lot of friends and she invited me.

It was extremely fun.

I would highly recommend, that you have a friend who wins a Nobel Prize.

- I invited John Leonard, 'cause he's been the first person who took my work seriously.

So I invited him to come to Stockholm.

He said, 'I don't know if I can do that.'

(mumbles) And I said, you're never gonna be invited to this ever again.

So he said, 'Your right'. And he came (laughs). We had a lot of fun.

- Before the ball, we spent like a bunch of girls I would say, spend a couple of hours in a room choosing gloves for her and shoes you know, she loves clothes Toni.

That's the other thing.

(orchestral music) - When Toni won the Nobel Prize, it was not just an important moment for African American literature.

I think it was an important moment for the prize.

How many women have won?

Two, three women in one.

It was a moment for American literature.

It was a moment for contemporary literature.

I mean, it was a moment for so many corners of the world, that didn't always fully embrace it.

- Don't forget when I began writing in the early '60s, Toni began writing too.

Faulkner was still alive.

Hemingway was still alive.

Fitzgerald had only recently died.

It was a club, where three or four white men could stand together and fight it out.


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