Portrait Gallery: Toni Morrison, 1931 - 2019

I have always found it difficult — if not impossible — to write about Toni Morrison. Hers was a once-in-a-generation talent. Her thinking was so clear and precise, her writing so free from the encumbrances of cliche, that writing about her with my clumsy prose always felt insulting, somehow. There's nothing I can say about her passing that hasn't already said, and better than I could ever say it. Many of us alive now never knew what it was like to read a brand-new book by James Baldwin, or Virginia Woolf. Nobody alive ever witnessed the new publication of a novel by Dostoevsky or Melville. But until this week, we lived in a world where Toni Morrison was alive, and writing, and publishing. We were lucky. — Paul Constant