#WomanCrushWednesday – Woman Crush Wednesday: Author Edition, Toni Morrison

Every week on Wednesday, I pick a different female author to showcase. It’s as simple, and as wonderful, as that!

To participate:

  • Create your own #WomanCrushWednesday post that features a female author.
  • Include this line somewhere in your post: #WomanCrushWednesday Author Edition is a blog meme created by Raeleigh @ RaeleighReads.
  • Provide a link back to your post (not your blog, but your post) in the comments section of RaeleighReads’ #WomanCrushWednesday post.

If you’re an author, and want to be featured, send me a query through my Review Policy page. Just start your query with Woman Crush Wednesday so I know what’s what.

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This week’s #WomanCrushWednesday pick: Toni Morrison.

toni morrison

Chloe Anthony (Toni) Morrison Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey photo: © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Toni Morrison is possibly one of the most accomplished writers (female or otherwise) of this age. A writer, an editor, and an educator at Princeton, she was first published in 1970 with her novel, The Bluest Eye. This was quickly followed by Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), and Beloved (1987). Beloved may be her best known work (it is certainly the most recommended). It won the Pulitzer and the American Book Award in 1988, and it was then turned into a film of the same name (starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover!).

More awards quickly followed:

  • 1993 – Nobel Prize in Literature
  • 1996 – Selected for National Endowment for the Humanities, Jefferson Lecture
  • 1996 – National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
  • 2000 – National Humanities Medal
  • 2005 – Commissioned to write the libretto for Margaret Garner, an original opera
  • 2012 – Presidential Medal of Freedom

She provides an important voice for women, especially women of color in her works; her protagonists tend to be black women. However, she does not use the word “feminist” to describe her works. She says this on the topic: “In order to be as free as I possibly can, in my own imagination, I can’t take positions that are closed. Everything I’ve ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it, to open doors, sometimes, not even closing the book – leaving the endings open for reinterpretation, revisitation, a little ambiguity….[feminism is] off-putting to some readers, who may feel that I’m involved in writing some kind of feminist tract. I don’t subscribe to patriarchy, and I don’t think it should be substituted with matriarchy. I think it’s a question of equitable access, and opening doors to all sorts of things.”

Now, that sounds like feminism to me, but certainly we should all be allowed to define our own labels, and if Morrison prefers not to identify her writings as feminist, that is her prerogative.

god help the child

Her most recent work, God Help the Child, was published April 21, 2015. Stylistically, it tends to break from her previous works. The prose is succinct and evocative. To me, this novel depicts a master at her finest. No words are wasted here, and the impact is in what is not said.

If you have not read Morrison, I highly suggest you do. If you like word paintings, and most readers do, I’m sure you will find something to love in her works.

Follow Toni Morrison on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

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