You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

5 things you may not know about iconic Toni Morrison

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/18/2019 Mary Cadden
Toni Morrison wearing a hat and smiling at the camera © Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc.

Toni Morrison’s latest book, “The Source of Self-Regard,” was released this month. Kirkus Reviews calls it “powerful, highly compelling pieces from one of our greatest writers." Known primarily as an author of fiction, this book is an extensive collection of her essays, meditations and speeches from over four decades and features her take on a variety of social issues. 

For those not familiar with the renowned author, who turns 84 today, here are five things about her that will perhaps enlighten and hopefully surprise:

Oprah Winfrey is one of her biggest fans: At a dinner gala where Morrison was being honored by the Center of Fiction with a lifetime achievement award, Oprah praised the author stating “she is our conscience, she is our seer, she is our truth-teller.” Oprah would choose four of Morrison’s novels for her popular book club – “Song of Solomon,” “Paradise,” “The Bluest Eye” and “Sula.” Winfrey also produced and starred in the film adaptation of her novel “Beloved.” 

1993 brought with it many highs and lows: In December of that year, Morrison attended the ceremony for the Nobel Prize (the lecture is included in her book). Not long after her return, her New York  home burned down. She told Terry Gross in an interview with NPR that while she was sad losing manuscripts and books, it was her children’s report cards and a jade plant she had nurtured for 15 years that she mourned most.

Her best-sellers by the numbers: Ten of her books have made the USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list, with “Paradise,” hitting the no. 1 spot in 1998. “The Bluest Eye” and “Song of Solomon” both reached no. 2.  Collectively, her works have appeared on the list a total of 148 weeks.

She has all the awards: To say Toni Morrison is an award-winning author is an understatement, there really are too many to list here. She's been honored with a lifetime achievement award by the National Book Critics Circle, received a Pulitzer for fiction, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, American Book Award and the Nobel Prize in literature. She even has two Grammy nominations.

There is a current documentary about her: “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, and Magnolia Pictures will bring the film to theaters later this year. The documentary looks at the author’s life, work and the social issues she has tackled throughout her literary career. Included are interviews with the author, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Oprah Winfrey, Walter Mosely, Russel Banks, and Robert Gottlieb.

Contributing: Sarah Day Owen

RELATED VIDEO: Toni Morrison Talks About Her Father [Provided by The New Yorker]

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

AdChoices

More From USA TODAY

AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon