American icon Toni Morrison has been awarded the 2016 PEN/Saul Bellow award for achievement in American fiction
The award, which is presented to living American authors whose “scale of achievement in fiction, over a sustained career, places him or her in the highest rank of American literature”, is worth $25,000 (£18,000).
Morrison is famous for her epic, often historical writings about race, family and identity. She wrote her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970 when she was 39, while working as a senior editor at Random House. Morrison won the Pulitzer prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved, which was adapted in 1998 into a film starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. She later won the 1993 Nobel prize in literature and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
The author was selected by a panel of judges including previous recipient Louise Erdrich – who won in 2014 – writer Francine Prose, and novelist and journalist Dinaw Mengestu.
In a statement on behalf of the judging panel, Erdich called Morrison’s work “revelatory, intelligent, bold”.
“Her fiction is invested in the black experience, in black lives and in black consciousness, material from which she has forged a singular American aesthetic,” she said. “Toni Morrison not only opened doors to others when she began to publish, she has also stayed grounded in the issues of her time.
“At every turn, she has commented upon and enlarged the conversation about what it is to be black, female, human, universal. Her brilliant and bracing fiction continues to address what is crucial, timely and timeless.” [Read More]