Literary giant Toni Morrison dies at the age of 88

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      The first African American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature has died.

      Novelist Toni Morrison was the author of many groundbreaking books—including BelovedThe Bluest Eye, Sula, King of Solomon, Jazz, and Tar Baby—which explored the lives of people of African ancestry in North America.

      She, along with another African-American novelist, James Baldwin, brought these stories into the mainstream, changing perceptions and promoting greater empathy and understanding.

      Morrison died at the age of 88 last night in New York City.

      When she won the Nobel Prize, the jury said her novels were "characterized by visionary force and poetic import".

      She inspired generations of writers around the world with her dignity, intellect, compassion, and fiery advocacy for a more equal world.

      "I get angry about things, then go on and work," she once said.

      Then there was this: "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

      Morrison was a professor emeritus at Princeton University and won many honours, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Pulitzer Prize.

      "Toni Morrison was a national treaure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page," former president Barack Obama tweeted. "Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while."

      On Twitter, Oprah Winfrey called Morrison "a magician with language, who understood the Power of words".

      "She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller," Winfrey wrote.

      Morrison grew up in Lorain, Ohio.

      Even though her novels revealed the depth of racism in America, she said that she didn't experience a lot of this as a child.

      "When I was in first grade, nobody thought I was inferior," Morrison told the Los Angeles Times. "I was the only black in the class and the only child who could read."

      Video: This 2015 BBC documentary about Toni Morrison covers everything from her childhood to her rise to become an American icon.

      Morrison taught at Howard University, which is the alma mater of Sen. Kamala Harris, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

      "In the passing of Toni Morrison, we lost one of our greatest voices & storytellers," Harris tweeted. "Holding close those touched by her being & her gift. Her work gave us power, hope & freedom. While our world shines a little less bright today, we know 'something that is loved is never lost.' "