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…)

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]

In a 1993 interview, Elissa Schappell talks to Toni Morrison for The Paris Review (with additional material from Claudia Brodsky Lacour)
Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison

Interviewer: You have said that you begin to write before dawn. Did this habit begin for practical reasons, or was the early morning an especially fruitful time for you?

Toni Morrison: Writing before dawn began as a necessity—I had small children when I first began to write and I needed to use the time before they said, Mama—and that was always around five in the morning. Many years later, after I stopped working at Random House, I just stayed at home for a couple of years. I discovered things about myself I had never thought about before. At first I didn’t know when I wanted to eat, because I had always eaten when it was lunchtime or dinnertime or breakfast time. Work and the children had driven all of my habits . . . I didn’t know the weekday sounds of my own house; it all made me feel a little giddy. (more…)