Toni Morrison

— Do you prefer being called Professor, Doctor, Mrs or Ms?
— I like Toni.

In 2017, Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Mario Kaiser sat down with Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. Their conversation took place in her home in upstate New York. Read more at Granta.

Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison

“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don’t need someone to share it with or tell it to.”

— Toni Morrison, Tar Baby

From an interview with Electric Literature
colson-whitehead
Colson Whitehead
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead’s gripping new novel, we are introduced to a metaphor made manifest: an actual railroad, underground. A literal and literary engine for his incredible inquiry into slavery, humanity, and the true nature of America. When Cora is invited to leave, to escape the plantation where she has lived her whole life and take the titular train north, she climbs down the rabbit hole and through different states, both geographical and psychological. She runs through a world fueled by cruelty, ambivalence, and every so often, kindness. And we see this world with sober eyes by the light of her unsentimental telling.

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The Paris Review makes the announcement, with information on each of the writers.

Some exciting news from The Guardian‘s Sian Cain:

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. (more…)

From Angela Chen’s interview, published in The Guardian
toni-morrison-portrait
Toni Morrison

“I just think goodness is more interesting,” Morrison said. “Evil is constant. You can think of different ways to murder people, but you can do that at age five. But you have to be an adult to consciously, deliberately be good – and that’s complicated.”

While researching goodness, she found texts by psychiatrists and psychologists suggesting that altruism was simply “something wrong with you, almost like a deviant behavior”. Disappointed by these reductive conclusions, she wanted to work a deeper understanding of the concepts into her books. (more…)

Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2014
Justine Baillie, Toni Morrison and Literary Tradition: The Invention of an Aesthetic
Justine Baillie, Toni Morrison and Literary Tradition: The Invention of an Aesthetic

Toni Morrison and Literary Tradition explores Toni Morrison’s construction of alternative and oppositional narratives of history and places her work as central to the imagining and re-imagining of American and diasporic identities. Covering the Nobel Prize-winning author’s novels (up to Home), as well as her essays, dramatic works and short stories, this book situates Morrison’s writings within both African-American and American writing traditions and examines them in terms of her continuous dialogue with the politics, philosophy and literary forms of these traditions. Toni Morrison and Literary Tradition provides a comprehensive analysis of Morrison’s entire oeuvre, from her early interrogation of Black Power to her engagement with fin de siècle postcolonial critiques of nationalism and twenty-first century considerations of ecology. Justine Baillie goes on to argue that Morrison’s aesthetic should be understood in relation to the historical, political and cultural contexts in which it, and the African-American and American literary traditions upon which she draws, have been created and developed. [Read More]

Two photographers take a look around the iconic literary journal
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Photograph: Paul Barbera

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