Literary Legend Toni Morrison Dies at 88

By Keana Saberi, Reporter

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Nobel and Pultizer prize esteemed author and icon Toni Morrison passed away on Aug. 5 at the age of 88. Morrison left behind a legacy encompassing African American tradition interwoven with culture and history through her realistic and raw depictions that shed light on hate and prejudice in American society, both past and present. Her profound and unique writing made her not only a luminary but also a trailblazer for other authors who were inspired by her powerful writing.

In 1993, Morrison became the first African American woman to be distinguished for her work by winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, one of many high honors she received during her career. To add to her trove of awards, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. An emeritus professor at Princeton University, Morrsion began teaching at the University in 1989 and through her many years of teaching racial studies and the arts, her legacy is evident in Princeton as well as the other universities she taught at. Her deep impact is prevalent in Princeton’s Morrison Hall which was named after her in 2017 as well her contributions to multiple societies and organizations regarding literature, human studies, and the arts.

Morrison’s career as a novelist began in the 1970s where she worked as a publisher at Random House. Since the days of her youth, she was immersed in a world of learning about literature and her family’s culture, which contributed to her written works.

Her hallmark achievements such as Beloved, The Bluest Eye, and Sula chronicle African-American society framed by a cultural and historical narrative which had long gone unacknowledged. While in the past her works have been criticised for their dark themes, they portray a reality which Morrison illustrates with an emotion and heart that drew in millions of readers. 

After her death, readers were awed at the loss of this literary great, including teachers who had been touched by her writing and the way her words possessed meaning and insight. 

“Toni Morrison’s words will stay with me forever,” English teacher Ms. Susan Stolar said. “As a freshman in college, I remember reading Beloved and tears ran down my face because of the beauty of her language. I had never read anything like it.  No one compares to Toni Morrison.” 

Through her words and novels readers will witness Morrison’s intellect through her beautiful writing that has stood the test of time. Gripping and real, Morrison’s literary legacy will forever shine through the pages of her books, reminding a racially divided American society of its harrowing past.