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Toni Morrison & the Nobel Prize

When Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 (a year in which Thomas Pynchon and Joyce Carol Oates had been favored to win) many critics were not impressed. "I hope this prize," Stanley Crouch tartly remarked, "inspires her to write better books!"

[Charles Johnson, a black novelist, suggested that Morrison had been "the beneficiary of good will" and that the award was "a triumph of political correctness."

When Beloved failed to win a nomination for the National Book Award, forty-eight prominent black intellectuals and writers, including Maya Angelou, Lucille Clifton, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alice Walker, and Quincy Troupe, protested "against such oversight and harmful whimsy" in a statement printed in the Times Book Review. "Alive, we write this testament of thanks to you, dear Toni: alive, beloved and persevering, magical..." it read. "For all America, for all of American letters, you have advanced the moral and artistic standards by which we must measure the daring and the love of our national imagination and our collective intelligence as a people." The National Book Award-winner? Pete Dexter's Paris Trout.]

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