Remembering Toni Morrison: From Beloved to Jazz and The Bluest Eye, a look at the Nobel laureate's best works

Morrison, who died at 88, created a lasting impact on readers as she explored the lives of African-Americans and the complexities of womanhood through her riveting, lyrical prose.

FP Staff August 07, 2019 10:30:50 IST
Remembering Toni Morrison: From Beloved to Jazz and The Bluest Eye, a look at the Nobel laureate's best works
  • Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved, which is perhaps the author's most well-known work

  • Her debut novel, The Bluest Eye, is set in her hometown, Lorrain, Ohio and follows the story of an African-American girl, Pecola during the years of the Great Depression

  • The Pulitzer Prize-winning author wrote 11 novels and nine non-fiction works along with five children's books and two short stories and plays

The first African-American woman Nobel Laureate in literature, Toni Morrison passed away on 6 August, 2019 leaving behind a cannon of rich, profound literature that chronicled the African-American experience through a career spanning over five decades.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author wrote 11 novels and nine non-fiction works along with five children's books and two short stories and plays. Morrison, who died at 88, created a lasting impact on readers as she explored the lives of African-Americans and the complexities of womanhood through her riveting, lyrical prose.

Remembering Toni Morrison From Beloved to Jazz and The Bluest Eye a look at the Nobel laureates best works

Noted African-American author, Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison passed away on 5 August 2019. Image via Twitter

As the literary world mourns the loss of one of its most prolific figures, here is a look at some of the author's best known works:

Beloved

Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved, which is perhaps also her most well-known work. Set in the years following the Civil War, it is the story of Sethe, a former slave who escapes to Ohio in the 1870s. Free, yet bound by the trauma of her past, Sethe is haunted by the ghost of her daughter, Beloved, whom she had murdered rather than subjecting her to a life of slavery. The novel was adapted into a film in 1998 starring Oprah Winfrey.

The Bluest Eye

The author's debut novel, this work is set in her hometown, Lorrain, Ohio, and follows the story of an 11-year-old African-American girl, Pecola, during the years of the Great Depression. Teased about her dark hair and skin, she constantly yearns for white features and blue eyes even as her life at home takes a horrific turn. Quoting Morrison from the novel, Barnes and Noble writes, "Quiet as it’s kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941. We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father’s baby that the marigolds did not grow.”

Remembering Toni Morrison From Beloved to Jazz and The Bluest Eye a look at the Nobel laureates best works

The writer leaves behind a rich cannon of literature that explores the plight of African-Americans, their experiences and conflicts.

Sula

Of two friends, Nel and Sula, this 1973 novel marked the author's second work. Choosing diverging paths, that takes one to college and a life in the city and the other rooted in their hometown in Ohio raising a family, the novel dives into their life's decisions, their consequences and the differences between the two African-American friends that arise from their contrasting views.

Jazz

Morrison's Jazz, set in 1920s Harlem, brings African-American rhythms into the pages of her book as it dives into the story of Joe, a door-to-door salesman, his wife Violet and his girlfriend Dorcas. In a dramatic turn of events, Joe murders his teenage girlfriend and as the crime is pieced together, it unveils the unbridled passions and emotions underlying the tragedy.

Song of Solomon

One of Morrison's highly acclaimed works, this novel is an intermingling of realism and fantasy, that narrates the story of Macon "Milkman" Dead III, and the many colourful characters that propel his life. The coming-of-age novel is the only work by Morrison to feature a male protagonist. Set in Michigan, it follows the life of Macon, growing up as a black man in America, the conflicts between his parents as well as a young woman's obsessive love for him.

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