Toni Morrison, acclaimed feminist author and the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993, died at the age of 88 on Monday.
Morrison breathed her last at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City “following a short illness”, her family told the media.
Toni Morrison was a highly influential writer not just in the US but also all over the world. Her fictional works took the African-American experience in fiction to a height that remains unsurpassable to this day. Her post-Civil War novel Beloved (1987), one that won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, tells the story of a slave who kills her baby so that it is never enslaved.
Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970; her other famous novels include Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), A Mercy (2008) and God Help the Child (2015).
Her novels deal with slavery, misogyny, colorism, gender discrimination, maternal filicide and incestuous rape, among other subject matters. Supernatural powers more often than not play an instrumental role in her storytelling as in Beloved.
Toni Morrison has contributed significantly to non-fiction as well. Many of her essays, in fact, constitute one or the other plank in the studies of race and gender in fiction. Her nonfiction titles include The Black Book (1974), Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992), and Remember: The Journey to School Integration (2004).
She was born on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio in the US. She was the daughter of George and Ella Ramah Wofford. She graduated in English from Howard University in 1953 and two years later received her master’s from Cornell University. She was an editor at Random House for 20 years and taught at different universities including Yale University, the State University of New York and Princeton University.