Nobel laureate Toni Morrison died Monday, August 5th, publisher Alfred A. Knopf confirmed. The statement notes Morrison’s many achievements, including winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved.
Read the full statement below:
We are profoundly sad to report that Toni Morrison has died at the age of eighty-eight. She died Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
The Bluest Eye, Morrison’s first novel, was published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston in 1970. Morrison followed with Sula in 1973, and nine subsequent novels, all of them published with Alfred A. Knopf.
Morrison’s novels were celebrated and embraced by booksellers, critics, educators, readers, and librarians. Her work also ignited controversy, notably in school districts that tried to ban her books. Few American writers won more awards for their books and writing. Morrison was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved. In 1993, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, with the Swedish Academy recognizing her as an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” In 1996, she was honored with the National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and in 2012, President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Morrison also worked as an editor at Random House – the first female African-American editor in company history – from 1967 to 1983. There, she published Gayl Jones, Toni Cade Bambara, Henry Dumas, Huey P. Newton, Muhammad Ali, and Angela Davis, among others. Her work as an editor and publisher at Random House demonstrated a unique commitment to writers of color, and helped in opening industry doors to them.