By Eve R Stone Light
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Toni Morrison, 1931—2019

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Issue 2667
Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison (Pic: West Point/Flickr)

Toni Morrison, one of the greatest writers of the 21st century, died last week.

Morrison was the first female African-American recipient of the Nobel Prize in literature.

In her acceptance lecture in 1993, Morrison said “Oppressive language does more than represent violence—it is violence.

“Does more than represent the limits of knowledge—it limits knowledge.”

Morrison grew up in Ohio during the Great Depression.

She made the move to New York 30 years later, where she was a single parent to two children.

It was then she began to write. “Writing was something for me to do in the evenings, after the children were asleep,” she said.

Morrison gave life to an aspect of American reality often ignored, particularly through her nuanced discussions of race and the experiences of black women.

One her most famous quotes is, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

She did just that.

All of Morrison’s books are worth reading. Beloved is one of the greatest works of experimental fiction of all time.

It is a powerful exploration of slavery, racism and what it means to be a woman.

Her writing is bold, startling, sensitive and beautiful.

It should bring joy that after many awards Morrison’s works are on school reading lists across the world.

Toni Morrison was a fine age at 88.

But it is a tragic time for our world to lose such a powerful writer and social commentator.

May her words live on long past her years.


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