New York (QNN)- Novelist Toni Morrison, the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature, died in New York at the age 88 on Monday. She was known for speaking her mind about many human rights issues, including Palestine and her disdain for the Israeli government’s policies.
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced that Morrison died Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Morrison’s family issued a statement through Knopf saying she died after a brief illness.
“Toni Morrison passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” the family announced. “She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing.”
Morrison was one of America’s greatest novelists, her 1987 book Beloved won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, five years before being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature—the first black female to win the honor.
She was awarded the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Morrison was also known for defending human rights and criticizing Israel’s practices. She was one of 18 writers to sign on to a 2006 letter denouncing Israel’s assaults on Gaza.
The letter stated that “Shalit’s “ ‘kidnapping’ was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources—most particularly, that of water—by the Israeli Defense (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land allotted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.”
“Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over,” added the letter. “But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.”