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Nobel laureate author Toni Morrison dead at 88

Toni Morrison, the novelist whose acclaimed books painted gripping portraits of life in black America, has died at 88, her family and publisher confirmed.

Morrison died Monday night in New York’s Montefiore Medical Center while surrounded by family and friends.

“The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing,” Morrison’s family said in a statement. “Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.”

Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, becoming the first black woman to have won the award. Former President Barack Obama bestowed her with America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2012.

Her writings were celebrated for their emotional intensity in bringing the black American experience to life for readers oftentimes through surreal dream-like plots and prose.

Beloved, a story about an enslaved black woman who escapes captivity, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award.

Her first novel, the Bluest Eye, has repeatedly come under fire in school systems for addressing the topics of rape, racism and molestation with the book’s protagonist, Pecola, being raped repeatedly by her father.

In addition to her vaunted catalogue of writings, Morrison worked as publisher Random House’s first black female editor and served for more than five decades as a professor of writing and literature at various prestigious universities, including Princeton.

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