Beloved novelist Toni Morrison passed away at Montefiore Medical Center in New York on Monday night, the Associated Press and Morrison’s publisher Knopf confirmed. The author was 88 years old.
“It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” Morrison’s family said in a statement. “She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing.”
Penning 11 novels in her lifetime, the Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning author was credited with bringing black literature and storytelling into the mainstream, and is best known for her celebrated and Pulitzer-winning book Beloved. Morrison’s most recent title, a collection of her nonfiction writing titled The Source of Self-Regard, was released in February 2019.
Prior to her prolific writing career, Morrison worked as a professor at the historically black Howard University and served as a senior editor at Random House for 16 years. Morrison was no stranger to breaking barriers: The author was the first black senior editor in the fiction department at Random House and the first black woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. In 2012, Morrison was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“We die,” Morrison stated in her 1993 Nobel address. “That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
“Art invites us to know beauty and to solicit it, summon it, from even the most tragic of circumstances. Art reminds us that we belong here. And if we serve, we last.”Rest in power, Toni Morrison, a fearless genius whose words will continue to guide and inspire us. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/xlG9xQljUT— Tribeca (@Tribeca) August 6, 2019
RIP Toni Morrison, a magnificent storyteller and terrible librarian. pic.twitter.com/GdX4v6Kbov— Letters of Note (@LettersOfNote) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison was so intentional about cultivating ways for Black women to reclaim our stories, centred within love as a radical, everyday practice. She posed the question: what does it mean to rename that which was not beloved as Beloved? With it, she changed our lives pic.twitter.com/9gnftXSBme— jade (@divanificent) August 6, 2019
RIP Toni Morrison. This is a devastating loss to the world of words, to our understanding of power and it’s reach, to the cultivation of empathy, to rich, nuanced, elegant storytelling. Her work was a gift to every one who had the pleasure of reading her.— roxane gay (@rgay) August 6, 2019
‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’RIP Toni Morrison, 1931 – 2019 pic.twitter.com/Oilt3lhXyL— Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) August 6, 2019