Toni Morrison's magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel—first published in 1987—brought the unimaginable experience of slavery into the literature of our time and into our comprehension. Set in post-Civil War Ohio, it is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave who has risked her life in order to wrench herself from a living death; who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad. Sethe, who now lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing apparition who calls herself Beloved.
Sethe works at “beating back the past,” but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly: in her memory; in Denver's fear of the world outside the house; in the sadness that consumes Baby Suggs; in the arrival of Paul D, a fellow former slave; and, most powerfully, in Beloved, whose childhood belongs to the hideous logic of slavery and who has now come from the "place over there" to claim retribution for what she lost and for what was taken from her. Sethe's struggle to keep Beloved from gaining possession of her present—and to throw off the long-dark legacy of her past—is at the center of this spellbinding novel. But it also moves beyond its particulars, combining imagination and the vision of legend with the unassailable truths of history.
Upon the original publication of Beloved, John Leonard wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “I can't imagine American literature without it.” In fact, more than a decade later, it remains a preeminent novel of our time, speaking with timeless clarity and power to our experience as a nation with a past of both abominable and ennobling circumstance.
Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction
WINNER 1988 - Pulitzer Prize
WINNER 1993 - Nobel Prize
WINNER 1988 - Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
One of the most celebrated writers of our time, Toni Morrison has become a distinctive literary voice in the 20th Century, and her works have become essential reading in the body of contemporary American fiction.
Toni Morrison was appointed Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University in the Spring of 1989.
Ms. Morrison has degrees from Howard and Cornell Universities. Among the universities where she has held teaching posts are Yale, Bard College and Rutgers. The New York State Board of Regents appointed her to the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at the State University of New York at Albany in 1984, a post she held until 1989. In 1988 she was the Obert C. Tanner Lecturer at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Professor at Syracuse University. In 1990 she delivered the Clark lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, and the Massey Lectures at Harvard University.
Her six major novels, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, and Jazz, have received extensive critical acclaim. She received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1977 for Song of Solomon and the 1988 Pulitzer prize for Beloved. Both novels were chosen as the main selections for the Book-of-the-Month Club, in 1977 and 1987 respectively. Her books of essays include Playing in the Dark, and her edited collection Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality.
Her first play, Dreaming Emmett, was commissioned by the New York State Writers Institute of the State University of New York (1985). Meeting with favorable reviews, it drew audiences throughout New York and the entire Tri-State area.
Honey and Rue, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Kathleen Battle, with lyrics by Toni Morrison and music by Andre Previn, premiered in January 1992.
Ms. Morrison has received honorary degrees from Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Sarah Lawrence, Oberlin, Dartmouth, Yale, Georgetown, Columbia, Brown, the University of Michigan, and Universite Paris 7-Denis Diderot. She was also the first recipient of the Washington College Literary Award in 1987 and was New York State Governor's Arts Awardee in 1986.
Other prestigious awards include: the Modern Language Association of America Commonwealth Award in Literature, 1989; Sara Lee Corporation Front Runner Award in Arts, 1989; Anisfield Wolf Book Award in Race Relations, 1988; the Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature in 1978; and the Distinguished Writer Award of 1978 from the American Academy of Art and Letters.
She was a senior editor at Random House for twenty years.
Toni Morrison is a founding member of the Academie Universelle Des Cultures (at the Louvre, Paris), a Trustee of the New York Public Library, a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a member of the Author's Guild where she served on the Guild Council and as Foundation Treasurer. She served on the National Council of The Arts for six years and is a member of the Africa Watch and Helsinki Watch Committees on Human Rights.
In 1993 Ms. Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.