Author Toni Morrison died earlier this week August 5th, 2019.
I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of this influential author, but I wanted to talk about why she’s so important and leave a reading list of her books down below.
One of the reasons that Toni Morrison has been such a powerful figure in literature was her commitment to race equality and feminism.
When she first began writing in the early 1970s, she was one of the only authors writing strictly African American literature. She also had a role in publishing other African American writers while she worked as an editor for Random House. She essentially ushered in a wave of black literature into a society that desperately needed it.
Morrison won a dizzying number of awards during her lifetime, all of them much deserved, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Norman Mailer Prize, and the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Before I get into the reading list, I wanted to share a few of her quotes that you should definitely know:
“Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.”
“What I’m interested in is writing without the gaze, without the white gaze. … 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.”
“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”
“The enemy is not men. The enemy is the concept of patriarchy, the concept of patriarchy as the way to run the world or do things.”
“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind.”
Toni Morrison Reading List
While this is not a complete list of her works, here are ten of the most important books she wrote.
- A Mercy
- Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination
- The Origin of Others
- The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations
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