Toni Morrison ©John Mathew Smith

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison (1931-2019) was an American novelist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Her most famous book is her 1987 novel Beloved, which has been recommended several times on Five Books.

Before her death in 2019, she was also the Robert F Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, at Princeton University.

Kaye Grabbe, a retired library director, wrote to us on Facebook with this message:  “It’s a magnificent novel, but you can’t start reading Morrison with Beloved. Start at the beginning with The Bluest Eye and then read each amazing novel as she wrote them. Then when you get to Beloved, you will GET IT.”

To help readers, we’ve put Toni Morrison’s books in order below:

Books by Toni Morrison

“If she is to maintain the large and serious audience she deserves, she is going to have to address a riskier contemporary reality than this beautiful but nevertheless distanced novel.”

New York Times, review, December 30th, 1973

“Thomas Hardy, full of his own instructions to damaged mankind, would have loved this book.”

Novelist John Irving's review of Tar Baby in the New York Times, March 29, 1981

Interviews where books by Toni Morrison were recommended

The Best Toni Morrison Books, recommended by Marilyn Mobley

In 1993, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to American novelist Toni Morrison, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” Here, literary scholar Marilyn Mobley—Professor Emerita of English and African American Studies at Case Western Reserve University and a former President of the Toni Morrison Society—introduces her work, from the best novel to start with to the essays she published just before her death in 2019.

Hermione Hoby on New York Novels

The writer and journalist Hermione Hoby’s highly acclaimed first novel is set during a New York heatwave. Here she picks five books inspired by this capacious, overstated, indomitable city and discusses how it shaped her as a writer.

The Best African American Literature, recommended by Farah Jasmine Griffin

An ever-growing body of authors are writing about the reality of what it means to be black in America, says Farah Jasmine Griffin, director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University. Here she recommends five works of African American literature, from greats like Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison to lesser-known gems by Ann Petry.

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