The University of Johannesburg (UJ) joins the world in mourning the death of world celebrated author and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The first African American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (in 1993), Morrison died on Monday, 5 August 2019. She died following a short illness, according to a statement from her family. She was 88 years old.
“It is with profound sadness (that) we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” read the statement from the family, quoted in AP several media publications.
With an illustrious literary career spanning over six decades, laden with awards, Morrison wrote as many as eleven novels, many of them on her life as a black American. Among the awards she won was the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for her 1987 novel “Beloved”, which was later turned into a film starring Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey.
In 1996, she was honoured with the National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2012 then President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2016 she received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.
Morrison was born in Ohio on February 18, 1931. Her family said although her passing represents a tremendous loss, they are “grateful that she had a long, well lived life”. They described her as “the consummate writer who treasured the written word.”