Beloved author Toni Morrison, also known for her acclaimed works The Bluest Eye (1970) and Paradise (1997), has reportedly died at 88. While her cause of death has not been shared, Alfred A. Knopf — Morrison’s publisher — states she passed away peacefully at the Bronx’s Montefiore Medical Center in the presence of loved ones after a “short illness.”
“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,” her family said in a statement. “Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.”
Morrison, who wrote a total of 11 novels during her lifetime and adeptly epitomized the Black American experience, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon in 1977 and a Pulitzer Prize for Beloved in 1988. She also became the first Black woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, and was heralded by the Nobel Committee as an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”
Her latest novel, God Help the Child, was published in 2015 and was listed as one of the most anticipated novels of that year by multiple publications. Recently, her legacy was highlighted in The Pieces I Am, an “intimate, comprehensive portrait” of Morrison’s life, which features anecdotes from Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis, Oprah Winfrey, and more.
Morrison closed her Nobel Prize address by stating, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
She will go on to be revered as one of the most influential writers our time, one who made it her lifework to assert both the validity and beauty of Black lives.