Toni Morrison Dies: ‘Beloved’ Author Was 88

Beloved author Toni Morrison died Monday night. The cause of death was not disclosed. She was 88.

Her death has been confirmed by her publisher Alfred A. Knopf. Named Nobel laureate in Literature in 1993, Morrison died at New York’s Montefiore Medical Center.

Winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Beloved was perhaps the most celebrated and famous of her great canon of work, but novels such as 1992’s Jazz, 1997’s Paradise and 2015’s God Help the Child secured her status as one of her generations leading lights of both literature and civil rights.

Just last February, director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am was acquired by Magnolia Pictures for release by end of year. The documentary chronicles the life and works of the legendary storyteller who in 1993 became the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize.

In the documentary, Morrison describes emerging from the steel town of Lorain, Ohio, as a “little black girl” who no one took seriously, the source and motivation for an ambitious and creative mind.

Morrison’s other achievements include the novels The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Song of Solomon, seminal work as an editor working with iconic African-American literature and professor emeritus at Princeton University.

Beloved was adapted for the screen in 1998 by Jonathan Demme, with Oprah Winfrey as co-producer and star. Winfrey, a devoted admirer and supporter of the author, had spent a decade trying to get the film made, and in 1996 selected Morrison’s Song of Solomon for her influential Book Club. Winfrey later boosted the profile of Morrison’s earliest novel The Bluest Eye by choosing the older work for the Book Club in 2000. Winfrey would eventually choose four Morrison novels, broadening Morrison’s profile and giving rise to what the African American Review would term “The Oprah Effect.”

Among Morrison’s many accolades was the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented by President Barack Obama.

In all, she wrote 11 novels, as well as a wide selection of children’s books, nonfiction and short fiction works, two plays and, in 2005, the libretto for the opera Margaret Garner.

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