06.21.2007 - By Women in Literature (Audio)
In novels such as the modern classic, Beloved, Toni Morrison has fused history and legend, realism and fantasy, to craft an epic saga of African American life. Although her work is steeped in local history and folklore, the fundamental human values of her art have captured the hearts of readers around the world. After earning a Master's in English from Cornell University, Morrison taught at Howard University in Washington, D.C. for many years, and first took up writing as a form of escape from an unhappy marriage. She completed her first novel, The Bluest Eye, while raising two children on her own and working full time as an editor at Random House in New York. She received the National Book Critics Award for her second novel, Sula. Her third, Song of Solomon, attracted an international audience. A year after Beloved was published in 1987, Morrison received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In 1993, Morrison was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature. She is the first African American to receive this honor, and the first black woman of any country. She embraces her historic role proudly, and often writes on issues of race and gender in American life and letters. Now a Professor in the Council of Humanities at Princeton University, she has often said that she takes teaching as seriously as writing. Her novel, Love, appeared in 2003. Her opera, Margaret Garner, had its world premiere in the spring of 2005 and was performed throughout the United States. Morrison's novel A Mercy, published in 2008, returns to the subject of slavery in 17th-century America.