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Tag Archives: 1988

New “Bench By The Road” Marks Underground Railroad History In Cleveland’s University Circle

Thinking about gaps in our communal memory has long occupied Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. In a 1989 interview, she said:“There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves . . . There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There's no 300-foot tower, there's no small bench by the road. There is not even a tree scored, an initial that I can visit or you can visit in Charleston or Savannah or New York or Providence or better still on the banks of the Mississippi. And because such a place doesn't exist . . . the book had to.”The book is her novel Beloved, now firmly in the American canon and winner of a 1988 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Morrison’s remarks... Read More →

Toni Morrison Returns With “God Help The Child,” Remains Wickedly Entertaining

At 84, Toni Morrison is full of reflection on her successes and incidents where she might request a do-over.    "It's not profound regret," she told NPR's Terry Gross. "It's just a wiping up of tiny little messes that you didn't recognize as mess when they were going on." Morrison's press tour for her eleventh novel, God Help the Child, has been full of little fascinating admissions like this. (My favorite parts of the recent lengthy New York Times profile are the quick revelations that Morrison has never once worn jeans and that she considers sleeping on ironed sheets one of life's greatest luxuries.)   Her vulnerability is heightened during the NPR interview as she riffs on the pains and shifts that accompany older adulthood. As she has aged, her circle has become smaller; as a... Read More →

When Maya Met Toni: The 40-Year-Friendship Between Two Literary Giants

 Anisfield-Wolf winner Toni Morrison found herself on stage at the Hay Festival in Wales May 28, the same day her friend Maya Angelou died in North Carolina at the age of 86. The obvious question—"Do you have any words to say about her life and legacy?"—was coming.    "She launched African-American women writing in the United States," Morrison said, choosing her words carefully. "She was generous to a fault. She had 19 talents...used 10. She was a real original. There's no duplicate." The friendship between Morrison and Angelou spanned more than 40 years. In 1973, Angelou wrote to Morrison after she finished reading Sula, telling her, "This is one of the most important books I've ever read." Their friendship deepened as they continued to cross paths and support one another's... Read More →

Toni Morrison Speaks To Cadets At West Point After “Home” Finds Place In Their English Curriculum

Toni Morrison doesn't hold her tongue on anything she deems important for the masses to know. At 82, she has earned that right.  In speaking with freshman cadets at the United States Military Academy, Morrison expressed her views on the war in Iraq and shared her inspiration for her latest book, "Home." The novel, about a Korean war veteran named Frank Money, who is struggling with PTSD and the segregated south, is part of the English curriculum at West Point. Lt. Col. Scott Chancellor, director of the freshman English program, selected the book for their classes thanks to its relevant messages to troops today, particularly as it touched on race and trauma.  Col. Scott Krawczyk, the head of the academy’s English and philosophy programs, tied the book's themes into the larger... Read More →

Toni Morrison Shares What Mistakes She Made With “The Bluest Eye”

We were thrilled to receive an invitation to participate in Toni Morrison's first live digital book signing, courtesy of Google Play. We weren't sure what to expect from the format—how would the digital signing of books work? How long would she speak? Would technical difficulties get in the way?  We were pleasantly surprised at how well the event went. Toni Morrison broadcast live from Google's New York offices and the event was streamed live over several websites. Readers were encouraged to submit questions beforehand and a lucky few were selected to speak with Ms. Morrison herself. After the event, readers would be able to download signed digital copies from the Google Play store.  Casual, comfortable and inviting, the digital book signing was billed as a first-of-its-kind event... Read More →

Are There Any Books You Wouldn’t Want Your Children To Read?

Toni Morrison's Pulitzer-prize winning novel, Beloved, took home the Anisfield-Wolf award for fiction in 1988. In it, a slave, unwilling to see her children grow up and live the same fate as their mother, killed one of her children rather than see them in bondage. Eighteen years later, the mother is visited by a young woman who she believes is the slain infant, returned.  However lauded the work may be, not everyone is a fan. Most recently, a Fairfax County parent has petitioned to ban the book based on the book's content, which she says gave her son nightmares after he read it for his senior-level English class. "I’m not some crazy book burner,” Laura Murphy said. “I have great respect and admiration for our Fairfax County educators. The school system is second to none. But I... Read More →

Happy Birthday, Toni Morrison!

In honor of Ms. Morrison's 82nd birthday, we're looking back at our archives for some of our favorite moments from the esteemed author over the past few years. Take a walk down memory lane with us:  "Beloved" is named one of the "88 Books That Shaped America" by the Library of Congress:  Toni Morrison won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her post-Civil War novel based on the true story of an escaped slave and the tragic consequences when a posse comes to reclaim her. The author won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993, and in 2006 The New York Times named "Beloved" "the best work of American fiction of the past 25 years." She wins the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom: In his personal remarks during the ceremony, President Obama said of Morrison's work, “I remember... Read More →

Toni Morrison To Speak At Harvard Divinity School

 On December 6, Toni Morrison will deliver the Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality at 5 pm in Sanders Theatre on the Harvard campus. Throughout the fall semester, Harvard Divinity School has hosted a working group on the religious dimensions of Morrison's writings. Watch the video here.   If you're interested in attending, tickets may be requested from the Harvard Box Office. Limit of 2 tickets per person. Tickets are available by phone and internet for a fee, or in person at the Holyoke Center Box Office. Call 617.496.2222 or reserve online at www.boxoffice.harvard.edu. Limited availability. Tickets are valid until 5:00 pm on the day of the event. The event will be live-streamed via a link on the Harvard Divinity School home page beginning at 5:15 pm.  If you are in the area and able... Read More →

School Board Member Objects To Textbook Review Process, Cites “Song Of Solomon” As Example Of Inappropriate Book

More than 35 years after being published, Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon" is behind a bit of controversy in the Frederick, Maryland school district.  From the Frederick News Post:  School board member April Miller would not vote to make "Song of Solomon" available in Frederick County high schools. The novel by Toni Morrison, which details the life of an African-American male living in Michigan from the 1930s through 1960s, includes graphic sexual and violent content. "It's definitely not something I want my 14-year-old reading," she said Thursday in a phone interview. Miller's daughter will be a high school freshman next year. "Song of Solomon" was set to be approved Wednesday in the Frederick County Board of Education's consent agenda, which requires only a yes or no vote with... Read More →

Incredible Artwork Of The One And Only Toni Morrison

We found this piece of art by local artist John Sokol fascinating. In it, he uses words to fill in the visage of Ms. Toni Morrison (perhaps words from her own works?). Visit the link to see more of his "word portraits," including those of James Joyce, Dante, and more. Read More →
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