Toni Morrison: Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize Winner
Meet Toni Morrison: Writer Extraordinaire
Born in Lorain (Ohio) in 1931, Professor Emeritus Toni Morrison is an acclaimed, black, fiction writer who is considered one of the most influential writers in American literary history.
She was an avid reader from childhood and her favourite authors were Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy.
In 1953, Morrison earned a B.A. in English from Howard University and a Master of Arts degree in English from Cornell University in 1955.
During her professional career, she lectured at Texas Southern University, Howard University, Yale, and in 1989 she received a professorship at Princeton University.
She had a son, Slade Morrison, who was a painter and musician but who, unfortunately, died on December 22, 2010 at the age of 45.
In the last 44 years, between 1970 and 2014, Toni Morrison has published 10 bestsellers, which have been described as having "epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters". These I will share with you in summary in this lens (article) along with some video clips. Enjoy!
Photo credit: www.afrobella.com
Toni Morrison's BELOVED
A story filled with drama and suspense!
BOOK versus MOVIE! - Beloved (1987; ISBN 1-4000-3341-1)
Toni Morrison received two (2) awards in 1988 for this novel - a Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award.
What makes this story so intriguing is that it is based on the TRUE STORY of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who temporarily escaped slavery in 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to the state of Ohio but was hunted down by her slave owners who used the ' Fugitive Slave Act of 1850' as the authority for their actions.
In the novel story, the protagonist, Sethe, is befriended by a young woman 'Beloved' who is overly demanding and who the village believes to eb the ghost of her 2-year old daughter whom she killed.
See if and how Sethe frees herself of this ghost.
BELOVED was also adapted into a film in 1998 film.
In a surprising and painfully difficult move, Sethe, the protagonist who plays the real life Margaret Garner, kills her 2-year old daughter rather than have her grow up as a slave.
Get the MOVIE, starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover!
Beauty and what it means to be beautiful discussed.
The Bluest Eye (1970; ISBN 0-452-28706-5)
This was her 1st novel and in 2000 it was chosen as one of the latest literary standouts for Oprah's Book Club.
Sula (1974; ISBN 1-4000-3343-8)
This book was nominated for the National Book Award in 1975.
Song of Solomon (1977; ISBN 1-4000-3342-X)
She won the 1978 National Book Critics Circle Award for this book. It was also a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club.
Some of Toni Morrison's MANY Awards!
Morrison debuted as a novelist in 1970 and has since been awarded a number of literary distinctions, including the following:
1. National Book Critics Circle Award (1978): An award which is given each March, by the National Book Critics Circle, to honour "the best literature published in the United States in six categories-autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry".
2. Pulitzer Prize (1988): This is a U.S. award, which was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of American (Hungarian-born) publisher Joseph Pulitzer. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. Her 1987 novel, "Beloved", earned her this award.
3. Nobel Prize in Literature (1993): Morrison is 1 of 12 women to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature by the Swedish Academy, Stockholm, Sweden since it was first awarded in 1901 and the 1st African American since 1938.
4. Jefferson Lecture (1996): The U.S. Federal Government's highest honour for achievement in the humanities.
5. National Humanities Medal (December 20, 2000): "Recipients [of this award] are distinguished individuals who have set the highest standards for American cultural achievement (National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH))." Morrison received her award from President Clinton "in recognition of her contributions to American cultural life and thought."
6. Presidential Medal of Freedom (May 29, 2012): The highest civilian award in the United States which is conferred by the President of the United States and recognizes those individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors".
7. Nichols-Chancellor's Medal (May 2013): An annual award given to persons, chosen by Vanderbilt University's Chancellor, who "define the 21st century and exemplify the best qualities of the human spirit."
Tar Baby (1981; ISBN 1-4000-3344-6)
Tells the story of a love affair between two Black Americans who were raised in very different worlds.
Jazz (1992; ISBN 1-4000-7621-8)
Set in the 1920s, this novel explores the pasts of six (6) characters in a separate way but pulled together in a jazzy sort of way.
Paradise (1997; ISBN 0-679-43374-0)
Hidden themes of anger, cruelty, and divisions are unearthed below a town's placid surface.
Morrison explores some of the characters in her novel 'LOVE'.
Love (2003; ISBN 0-375-40944-0)
Tells the story of a hotel owner, who, even in death holds some power over the lives of the people who crossed his path while he was alive.
A Mercy (2008; ISBN 978-0-307-26423-7)
After a break of approximately five (5) years Morrison published this 9th novel.
Home (2012; ISBN-13: 9780307594167)
This is her latest novel (2012). She read excerpts from it at a public reading on October 2, 2012 in Princeton University’s Alexander Hall, Richardson Auditorium.
An Evening with Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison's 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature citation reads:
"[Toni Morrison] who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."
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