The LIT History Series is for the Legends, Innovators and Trailblazers that have shaped our culture. I love history, and in turn, I love black history. So much of our culture has been defined by those who've come before us, so I write this to capture and chronicle our narratives
Most of us by a certain age have heard the name Toni Morrison and have read at least one of her books, if not on our own then through an English Lit class
She's just that good. The Nobel-Prize and Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist is a writer, playwright, editor and a literary critic. Basically she's everything I want to be in life
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Real talk. As I'm working on writing my own fiction novel with one of my best friends, I can only dream to make a nanogram of an impact that this woman has made
Here's what makes Toni Morrison one of my personal faves and a notable figure in black history
1. She worked as an editor at Random House and used her platform to help other Black authors.While working at Random House, she published books by Muhammad Ali, Henry Dumas, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, Toni Cade Bambara and Gayl Jones, whom she discovered in the 1970s
2. She does it for the culture.“What I’m interested in is writing without the gaze, without the white gaze,” she told a reporter from The New York Times “In so many earlier books by African-American writers, particularly the men, I felt that they were not writing to me. But what interested me was the African-American experience throughout whichever time I spoke of. It was always about African-American culture and people — good, bad, indifferent, whatever — but that was, for me, the universe.”
3. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, initially didn't sell very well.Toni Morrison published The Bluest Eye in 1970 at age 39. Even though the book received warm reviews, it didn't sell well. Toni kept writing though, and the book has gone on to be one of the greatest novels of our time
4. She won the Pulitzer for Beloved.
5. She became a professor at Princeton in 1989.Come on, Ivy League!
6. After retiring from Princeton, she wrote the libretto for Margaret Garner, an American opera loosely based on the actual events of a runaway slave.
7. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.Boom. And, she was the first Black woman to be selected for this award
8. She's won practically every literary award there is to win.
- Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
- National Book Foundation's Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
- Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction