In 1993, Toni Morrison became the first black woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize after she took home the prize for her outstanding contribution to literature and giving life to an essential part of reality that had been so downplayed - the African American experience.
She was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993 - the first black woman to receive the award - and selected for the National Endowment for the Humanities' Jefferson Lecture in 1996.
"We are profoundly sad to report that Toni Morrison has died at the age of eighty-eight", a statement from Morrison's publisher, Knopf, said, adding that the novelist died on Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in NY.
Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, who grew up in Lorain, Ohio, has passed away at 88.
With her husband, whom she divorced in 1964, Morrison had two children, Harold and Slade, who co-wrote children's books with his mother.
She is known for her iconic works "Beloved" and 'The Bluest Eye'.
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Speaking a year ago, Winfrey said: "It's impossible to actually imagine the American literary landscape without a Toni Morrison".
Throughout her career Morrison wrote books focused away from what she called "the white gaze".
She is survived by two children. Five years later, she became a senior editor for the publishing company Random House in its NY headquarters. Aside from her illustrious literary career, which spanned four decades and included 11 novels and multiple works of non-fiction, Morrison also taught creative writing and literature at multiple universities. Taking stories about Black life, turning them into masterful pieces of writing that gave voice to a people whose stories were often left out of the American literary cannon. "They are canonical works, and more importantly, they are books that remain beloved by readers", reports the BBC. She was having such a good time, and she never said, 'Who me?
She does this via a 20-something man returning from the Korean War to his family in Seattle - "discharged from an integrated Army into a segregated homeland", as The New York Times put it in a review when the novel was published.
She championed emerging fiction authors such as Gayl Jones and Toni Cade Bambara, helped introduce US readers to such African writers as Wole Solinka, worked on a memoir by Muhammad Ali and topical books by such activists as Angela Davis and Black Panther Huey Newton. Over the next 15 years, she would have an impact as a book editor - and as one of the few black women in publishing, that alone would have ensured her legacy. A special project was editing The Black Book, a collection of everything from newspaper advertisements to song lyrics that anticipated her immersion in the everyday lives of the past. She followed up with "Sula" in 1973, going on to publish another nine novels. "Her work also ignited controversy, notably in school districts that tried to ban her books".
"Beloved" controversially missed out on two top U.S. awards when it was published, prompting 48 writers to sign an open letter in the New York Times Book Review decrying the failure to recognize Morrison.