Toni Morrison (GP)
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Toni Morrison, author of seminal works of literature on the black experience such as Beloved, Song of Solomon and Sula and the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize, has died, her publisher Knopf confirmed to CNN.
She was 88.
Morrison’s novels gazed unflinchingly on the lives of African Americans and told their stories with a singular lyricism, from the post-Civil War maelstrom of Beloved to the colonial setting of A Mercy to the modern yet classic dilemmas depicted in her 11th novel, God Help the Child.
Her talent for intertwining the stark realities of black life with hints of magical realism and breathtaking prose gained Morrison a loyal literary following. She was lauded for her ability to mount complex characters and build historically dense worlds distant in time yet eerily familiar to the modern reader.
Themes such as slavery, misogyny, colourism and supernaturalism came to life in her hands.
A decorated novelist, editor and educator – among other prestigious academic appointments, she was a professor emeritus at Princeton University – Morrison said writing was the state in which she found true freedom.
“I know how to write forever. I don’t think I could have happily stayed here in the world if I did 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," Morrison said.
Morrison, who was nearly 40 when she published her first novel in 1970, wasn't an overnight success.
The author was born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, the daughter of George and Ella Ramah Wofford, whom she often credited with instilling in her a love of the arts. (CNN)