Literature: Celebrating Toni Morrison

by Editorial

The Hay-Adams Author Series focused on Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.
By John Arundel

Nobel-Prize winning author Toni Morrison. Photo by Dan Chung.

In its continuing series of events celebrating great American authors, Washington’s Hay-Adams Hotel hosted a luncheon to celebrate Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.

Co-hosted by Kay Enokido, the hotel’s president, and Marie Arana, a Washington Post Writer at Large and a member of the Scholars’ Council of the Library of Congress, guests at the luncheon enjoyed a specially prepared three-course lunch and were invited to speak with Morrison. The event concluded with a book signing.

Calling her a “true living legend,” Enokido said it was a “great honor” to welcome Morrison to the Hay-Adams and celebrater her latest accolade, the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival Award for Creative Achievement.

Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 for Beloved, a novel set in 1873 based on the story of Margaret Garner who escaped slavery in 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to Ohio. In 1998, Beloved was famously adapted into a feature-length film directed by Jonathan Demme and starred Oprah Winfrey.

She was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993 for her body of work which includes novels such as The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Sula, and of course, Beloved.

Morrison’s most recent work is her 2008 novel, A Mercy. It is the author’s ninth novel. It made the New York Times Book Review list of “10 Best Books of 2008” as chosen by the paper’s editors. In 2010 it was chosen for the One Book, One Chicago program.

Morrison is no stranger to the District. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Howard University and later returned there to teach. This was, however, her first time at the National Book Festival which is in its 11th year and her first time at the Hay-Adams Author Series which launched in 2005 following in the tradition of authors such as Mark Twain and Edith Wharton who would gather at the homes of John Hay and Henry Adams, which is now the site of the Hay-Adams.

Previous authors in the Hay Adams Series include Maya Angelou, John Grisham, David McCollough, and Patricia O’Toole.

From Left: Professor Dana Williams, chairman of English Dept. at Howard University; Kay Enokido, president of The Hay-Adams; Professor Victoria Arana-Robinson, English Dept. at Howard University; Dr. Carolyn Brown, Director of The John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress. Photo by Dan Chung.

Toni Morrison with co-host, Marie Arana, at The Hay-Adams Author Series. Photo by Dan Chung.

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