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Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved.
James Baldwin - Later Years (1:45)
Toni Morrison's novels include "The Bluest Eye," "Sula," and "Beloved."
Author Alice Walker began writing early in life. When an injury to her left eye afforded her the chance to go to College, Walker began to work towards her goal of becoming a professional writer.
While at Spelman College, Alice Walker turned down a scholarship to study abroad in Paris in order to go to Mississippi to pursue civil rights equality.
After writing about a variety of controversial issues and making his voice heard through several publications, James Baldwin.
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That year, The New York Times Book Review named Beloved the best novel of the past 25 years. She continued to explore new art forms, writing the libretto for Margaret Garner, an American opera that explores the tragedy of slavery through the true life story of one woman's experiences. The opera debuted at the New York City Opera in 2007.
Morrison traveled back to the early days of slavery in the United States for her next novel, A Mercy. Once again,
a woman who is both a slave and a mother must make a terrible choice regarding her child. As a critic from the Washington Post described it, the novel is "a fusion of mystery, history and longing." In addition to her many novels, Morrison has written several works of non-fiction. She published collection of her non-fiction writings entitled What Moves at the Margin in 2008.
A champion for the arts, Morrison spoke out about censorship in October 2009 after one of her books was banned at a Michigan high school. She served as editor for Burn This Book, a collection of essays on censorship and the power of the written word, which was published that same year. She told a crowd gathered for the launch of the Free Speech Leadership Council about the importance of fighting censorship. "The thought that leads me to contemplate with dread the erasure of other voices, of unwritten novels, poems whispered or swallowed for fear of being overheard by the wrong people, outlawed languages flourishing underground, essayists' questions challenging authority never being posed, unstaged plays, canceled films—that thought is a nightmare. As though a whole universe is being described in invisible ink," Morrison said.
Now in her eigthies, Morrison continues to be one of literature's great storytellers. She published her latest novel, Home, in 2012. She once again explores a period of American history—this time the post-Korean War era. In choosing this setting, "I was trying to take the scab off the '50s, the general idea of it as very comfortable, happy, nostalgic. Mad Men. Oh, please. There was a horrible war you didn't call a war, where 58,000 people died. There was McCarthy," Morrison explain to the Guardian newspaper. Her main character, Frank, is a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
While writing the novel, Morrison experienced a great personal loss. Her son Slade, an artist, died in December 2010. The pair had collaborated together on a number of children's books, including Big Box (1999) and Little Cloud and Lady Wind (2010).
In addition to Home, Morrison also debuted another work in 2012: She worked with opera director Peter Sellars and songwriter Rokia Traoré on a new production inspired by William Shakespeare's Othello. The trio focused on the relationship between Othello's wife Desdemona and her African nurse, Barbary, in Desdemona, which premiered in London in the summer of 2012.
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