“Ms. Morrison placed African Americans, particularly women, at the heart of her writing at a time when they were largely relegated to the margins both in literature and in life. With language celebrated for its lyricism, she was credited with conveying, as powerfully or more than perhaps any novelist before her, the nature of black life in America, from slavery to the inequality that went on more than a century after slavery ended.
“Among her best-known works was “Beloved” (1987), the Pulitzer-winning novel later made into a film starring Winfrey. It introduced millions of readers to Sethe, a slave mother haunted by the memory of the child she had murdered, having judged life in slavery worse than no life at all. Like many of Ms. Morrison’s characters, she was tortured, yet noble — “unavailable to pity,” as the author described them.”
From the Washington Post