Photo Credit: Toni Morrison/Wikimedia Commons

One of our greatest authors responsible for bringing true African American stories to the mainstream, Toni Morrison just passed, Monday, August 5th. At 88 years old, she was the first African American woman to be given the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, she received a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988, and received an honorary doctorate’s degree from Rutgers University in 2011.

The Morrison family released a statement saying describing Morrison as an “extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt” had “passed away peacefully last night [5 August] 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,” it continued.”Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.” The family added: “While we would like to thank everyone who knew and loved her, personally or through her work, for their support at this difficult time, we ask for privacy as we mourn this loss to our family. We will share information in the near future about how we will celebrate Toni’s incredible life.”

Her long-time editor Robert Gottlieb from Knopf publishers, said: “She was a great woman and a great writer, and I don’t know which I will miss more.” And Sonny Mehta, the chairman of Knopf, said: ” I can think of few writers in American letters who wrote with more humanity or with more love for language than Toni. “Her narratives and mesmerizing prose have made an indelible mark on our culture. Her novels command and demand our attention. They are canonical works, and more importantly, they are books that remain beloved by readers.”

A documentary about her life, The Pieces I Am came out in June about her life and career. In an interview with The Root director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders said her interviews had the power to stop everyone in their tracks and draw them into what she was saying. “Toni not only is an incredible storyteller, but she has a beautiful voice, a very seductive voice. So when the interviews are going on, the whole crew is just drawn in. It was wonderful. You didn’t want it to end.”

She passed away in a New York hospital. The cause so far is still unknown.