Happy Birthday to Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, turns 80 today.  She is one of my favorite authors.  Really, her books are essential reading whether one enjoys them or not.  I think her best book is Beloved.  Though I suspect that my view is influenced by numerous rereadings.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Song of Solomon could beat Beloved to the top spot if I gave it the same treatment.   All her books mark defining moments in my life.  Like other seminal women writers of the African Diaspora, Toni Morrison’s work has influenced me greatly.

”In the beginning, people would say, ‘Do you regard yourself as a black writer, or as a writer?’ and they also used the word woman with it – woman writer. So at first I was glib and said I’m a black woman writer, because I understood that they were trying to suggest that I was ‘bigger’ than that, or better than that. I simply refused to accept their view of bigger and better. I really think the range of emotions and perceptions I have had access to as a black person and as a female person are greater than those of people who are neither. I really do. So it seems to me that my world did not shrink because I was a black female writer. It just got bigger.”  (New York Times)

This quote also captures how I see the reader in me.  With much gratitude and appreciation,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TONI MORRISON

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17 comments

  1. Happy Birthday, Ms. Morrison!

    Kinna,

    This is a timely reminder. I was just looking at Song of Solomon (my favorite Morrison) and thinking that I am due to re-read it. That, or go get A Mercy which I have not yet read.

    She is brilliant, one of those authors who transcends her generation.

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  2. also a must-read is “tar baby”, the first i read by this arresting writer. one (faulty) memory immediately — the central character looking enviously at the free woman in a yellow dress buying three eggs held in one hand who then, seen through the shop window, squeezes an arc of spit through her front teeth as she goes. another quick memory is of the leap of faith morrison launches in the final words of “tar baby” and “song of solomon”, so magnificently supported by the foundation she has laid beforehand. kinna, thanks for this reminder. maybe you could put in a link to a list of morrison’s books.

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  3. Happy Birthday Toni Morrison. I had the privelage of meeting Ms Morrison when I made a documentary about her life and work for BBC4 in 2003. She was simply mazing. I read all her novels so that I could brief the presenter and every single one of her books is terrific. ‘Beloved’ is out of this world, but then so is ‘Jazz’ – Toni Morrison is a truly fabulous black woman writer!

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    • No, I don’t that the quote is harsh males at all. The label “black woman anything” really follows one around. And it really jars. Because afterall, that is what we are. One is made to feel less than. I think what Morrison has done is to embrace the label and to point out that, in fact, being a black woman actually opens up a world of opportunity and insight. This is something that we need to hear. It’s simple but also empowering 🙂

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  4. In fact, I am yet to start any book by Morrison. Your piece here confirms how great this author is. I will be looking forward to starting Sula soon. I also wish her happy birthday.

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