In Awe and Gratitude: Toni Morrison, 1931–2019

From The Bluest Eye (1970) to this year’s The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison has transformed literature and our perception and understanding of humanity, race, and racism by courageously, creatively, and indelibly addressing complex and freighted realities which warp and poison our communities and our lives.

Reading Morrison is a powerfully mind-expanding and emotionally complex experience; the stories she tells are at once electrifying in their freshness and timeless in their depth. In her dramatic, provocative, and controversial fiction—both Song of Solomon and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Beloved appear on ALA’s “Banned and Challenged Classics” list––and in her exacting and bracing essays, Morrison combines erudition with artistry, intellectual acuity with imagination, candor with compassion. (We’ve rounded up many of Morrison’s extraordinary works, linked to their Booklist reviews when available, below.)

Morrison’s commitment to writing and books was evident not only in her own visionary work, but also in her accomplishments as the first African American woman editor at Random House and her long career as a creative writing teacher. Her influence is profound and it will be everlasting.

“A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.”
–Toni Morrison

Fiction

The Bluest Eye, 1970
Sula, 1973
Song of Solomon1977
Tar Baby, 1981
Beloved, 1987
Jazz, 1992
Paradise, 1997
Love, 2003
A Mercy, 2008
Home, 2012
God Help the Child, 2015



Nonfiction

The Black Book, 1974
Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, 1992
Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality, 1992 (editor)
Remember: The Journey to School Integration, 2004
Burn This Book: PEN Writers Speak Out on the Power of the Word, 2009 (editor)
The Origin of Others, 2017
The Source of Self-Regard: Essays, Speeches, and Meditations, 2019

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Donna Seaman is adult books editor at Booklist. Her radio interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books (2005). Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Donna.

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