Toni Morrison passed away on Monday evening at the Montefiore Medical Centre in New York. She was 88 years old.
Best known for her 1987 novel Beloved, about a runaway slave who kills her infant daughter, and is haunted by the ramifications of her action when her child returns, Morrison's novels were revolutionary for their depiction of Black individuals in an era that often flattened them into stereotypes.
Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio, and would go onto change literature forever — both with her own 11 novels, and for opening doors for other authors of colour. Before making her fiction debut in 1970 with The Bluest Eye, Morrison spent 19 years as an editor at Penguin Random House.
In 1993, Morrison became the first African American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, and one of two American women. Morrison's literary highlights include Song of Solomon (1978), Jazz (1992), and her first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970). Her last novel, God Help the Child, was published in 2015, but her collected short stories, speeches, essays were published in a 2019 edition – leaving us with her guiding wisdom.
For a deeper immersion into the greatness that was (and will remain) Toni Morrison, turn to the illuminating documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, came out earlier this year. The film, directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, is rife with literary commentary from the author herself. And who could say anything better?