Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-Winning Author and Subject of Documentary 'Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,' Dies at 88
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders' film is now playing in theaters after world premiere at Sundance
Toni Morrison, the literary giant whose story is told in the new documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, has died at the age of 88.
Alfred A. Knopf, the Nobel Prize-winning author's publisher, announced her death today, revealing she died of complications of pneumonia on Monday at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. The New York Times says Morrison made her home in Grand View-on-Hudson, New York.
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, director of the Morrison documentary, provided a statement to Nonfictionfilm.com, about the loss of one the world's most admired writers.
...The gifts she left us — her written works that have transformed so many lives around the world — live on...
"I’ve been privileged to know Toni Morrison for nearly 40 years," Greenfield-Sanders wrote. "During that time, she won many awards and accolades — the Nobel, a Pulitzer, the Presidential Medal of Freedom… But for me, Toni has been a treasured collaborator, a monumental inspiration and, most importantly, a cherished friend. We will all miss her, but the gifts she left us — her written works that have transformed so many lives around the world — live on... to educate, empower and nourish us. For this and all she shared with us, I say thank you Toni."
He concluded, "My deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends."
On his Instagram feed, Greenfield-Sanders posted a photograph of Morrison in profile that he took in 1997.
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, winner of awards at the Cinetopia Film Festival and Wisconsin Film Festival, held its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last January. The film from Magnolia Pictures is now playing at select theaters around the country. It has earned more than $550,000 in seven weeks of release, according to audience measurement firm comScore.
"Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am offers an artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the acclaimed novelist," the film's official website writes. "From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ‘70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature."
The website adds, "Woven together with a rich collection of art, history, literature and personality, the film includes discussions about her many critically acclaimed works, including novels "The Bluest Eye," "Sula" and "Song of Solomon," her role as an editor of iconic African-American literature and her time teaching at Princeton University."
A couple of months ago I read "The Bluest Eye" for the first time and was astonished by the beauty and mesmeric force of Morrison's writing. For me, the power of her prose evoked Faulkner, another Nobel Prize-winning author; like Faulkner, Morrison raised a crop of characters - blighted but persistent - from the cruel soil of the American experience.
Oprah Winfrey, who appears in the documentary about Morrison, included four of the novelist's works in her renowned bookclub: "Song of Solomon" (September 1996); "Paradise" (January 1998); "The Bluest Eye" (April 200), and "Sula" (April 2002).
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.