An Intervie-w -with Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, was born in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio. Her grandparents had all fled the ]im Crow South. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved (1987), set in post-civil-war Kentucky and Ohio, grew from a news cutt ing on a runaway slave who killed her child rather than have her recaptured, and was tried not for murder but for thift cif property. In the novel, the dead child returns in ghostly form. It began a trilogy cif novels that included Jazz (1992), set in 1920s Harlem, and Paradise (1998), set in the 1970s in an all-black town in Oklahoma founded by freed slaves. In Paradise, a convent-turned-women's-rifuge is stormed by a group of townsmen-a midnight-skinned aristocracy that insists on racial purity.
Morrison's most recent novel, Love (2003), is set bifore, during, and after the Civil Rights Movement at a hotel resort in coastal Florida that was once the preserve of upwardly mobile African-Americans, but which closed down with the advent of integration. Bill Cosey, the hotel's owner, is a phantom figure "swamped by his own past history," over whom adoring women-including his widow, Heed, and granddaughter Christine--squabble long after his death.
Morrison's early novels are The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977) , and Tar Baby (1981). Her non-fiction includes Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992), which argues that American literature has been shaped by an unspoken "dark, abiding, signing Africanist presence," giving rise to the lazy, metaphorical shortcuts cif "American Africanism." Since 1989 Morrison has held a chair in the humanities at Princeton.