Toni Morrison

5 Things We Learned About Toni Morrison

Earlier this month, at age 81, Nobel Prize winning novelist Toni Morrison spoke with the BBC for its new Talking Books TV series.  Click here to watch a video clip.

Here’s what we learned:

  1. A chronicler of the past, from slave days to the Jazz Age, Morrison is now working on a contemporary novel about an African American President. “I’m sort of playing around with it on paper as they say. It’s very, very hard.”
  2. Taking a narrative approach to what she calls the “vilification” of President Obama by the right and the “vile and racist” things people say about him, Morrison is interested in the story arc that put Obama in the White House after the death of both his mother and grandmother. “I wonder what it would have been like if he had won the presidency and … those two white people were alive and living in the White House, or visiting. I wonder what the language would be, then”
  3. She claims not to “fully understand the contemporary world.”  Really…
  4. Morrison credits contemporary music and club culture with changing the racial paradigm among young people: “The culture [young people] are exposed to, it seeps with African American music, song and dance and everything. So they are not uncomfortable they are not afraid, they don’t think of it as the other.”
  5. Morrison doesn’t have high expectations for the “older generation.”  She says she understands the terror older white people feel about having a smart black man in the White House. “A dumb one, they could handle….”

 If you could ask Morrison anything, what would it be? Tell us in the comments box below.

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