Pulitzer Prize Awardees for Fiction

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Beloved (1987)

Written by Toni Morrison

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

Sethe works at beating back the past, but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly in her memory and in the lives of those around her. When a mysterious teenage girl arrives, calling herself Beloved, Sethe’s terrible secret explodes into the present.

Combining the visionary power of legend with the unassailable truth of history, Morrison’s unforgettable novel is one of the great and enduring works of American literature. (Copyright © Everyman's Library/Random House. All rights reserved.)

Source:  Penguin Random House Company.

Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, editor and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue and richly detailed black characters. Among her best known novels are Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. Morrison has won nearly every book prize possible and has been awarded honorary degrees. Morrison received a B.A. in English in 1953 at Howard University. She earned a Master of Arts degree in English from Cornell University in 1955, for which she wrote a thesis on suicide in the works of William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf.

Morrison began writing fiction as part of an informal group of poets and writers at Howard who met to discuss their work. She went to one meeting with a short story about a black girl who longed to have blue eyes. She later developed the story as her first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970). 

In 1975, her novel Sula (1973) was nominated for the National Book Award. Her third novel, Song of Solomon (1977), brought her national attention. The book was a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, the first novel by a black writer to be so chosen since Richard Wright's Native Son in 1940. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1981, she published her fourth novel, Tar Baby, where for the first time she describes interaction between black and white characters. Her picture appeared on the cover of the March 30, 1981 issue of the Newsweek magazine.

In 1987, Morrison's novel Beloved became a critical success. It won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the American Book Award. The New York Times Book Review named Beloved the best American novel published in the previous twenty-five years.

She worked at Random House for almost twenty years. As an editor, Morrison played a vital role in bringing black literature into the mainstream, editing books by authors such as Henry Dumas, Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis, and Gayl Jones. She taught in several school institutions like Yale University, Bard College and State University of New York. In 1993, Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was the eighth woman and the first black woman to do so.

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