Projecting Our Sheroes : Toni Morrison

By Onozasi

Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, editor and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, exquisite language and richly detailed African American characters who are central to their narratives. She was born on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio. Her novels are known for their epic themes, exquisite language and richly detailed African American characters who are central to their narratives. Among her best-known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, Jazz, Love and A Mercy.

Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. In 1996, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected her for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government’s highest honour for achievement in the humanities. Also that year, she was honoured with the National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, she received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.

 

Projecting Our Sheroes By Above Whispers (2)

When Morrison was about two, her family’s landlord set fire to the house they lived in, while they were home because her parents couldn’t pay the rent. Her family responded to what she called this “bizarre form of evil” by laughing at the landlord rather than falling into despair. Morrison later said her family’s response demonstrated how to keep your integrity and claim your own life in the face of acts of such “monumental crudeness.”

Morrison’s parents instilled in her a sense of heritage and language through telling traditional African-American folktales and ghost stories and singing songs. Morrison also read frequently as a child; among her favourite authors were Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy. She became a Catholic at the age of 12 and took the baptismal name Anthony (after Saint Anthony), which led to her nickname, Toni. She graduated in 1953 with a B.A. in English and went on to earn a Master of Arts from Cornell University in 1955. Her Master’s thesis was “Virginia Woolf’s and William Faulkner’s treatment of the alienated”. She taught English, first at Texas Southern University in Houston for two years

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice includes writing by Morrison. Visitors can see her quote after they have walked through the section commemorating individual victims of lynching. In June 2005 Oxford University awarded Morrison an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

In 2006, The New York Times Book Review named Beloved the best work of American fiction published in the previous 25 years, as chosen by a selection of prominent writers, literary critics, and editors.] In his essay about the choice, “In Search of the Best,” critic A. O. Scott said: “Any other outcome would have been startling since Morrison’s novel has inserted itself into the American canon more completely than any of its potential rivals. With remarkable speed, ‘Beloved’ has, less than 20 years after its publication, become a staple of the college literary curriculum, which is to say a classic. Until her retirement in 2006, Morrison held the Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities at Princeton University.

On November 17, 2017, Princeton University dedicated Morrison Hall (a building previously called West College) in her honour.

Toni Morrison left the earth on the 5th of August 2019. Her works, her life can never be forgotten.

We celebrate this Woman Of Strength!

 

Source: Above Whispers

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