Imagine (2003– )
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Toni Morrison Remembers 

Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison is America's first lady of literature. Her books encompass black American history but live and breathe in the present, rich in vivid characters, haunted by ... See full summary »


Jill Nicholls


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Episode credited cast:
Alan Yentob Alan Yentob ... Himself - Presenter
Alibe Parsons Alibe Parsons ... Reader (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hilton Als Hilton Als ... Himself - Writer
Angela Davis ... Herself
Paula Giddings Paula Giddings ... Herself - Writer and Academic
Robert Gottlieb Robert Gottlieb ... Himself - Editor
Fran Lebowitz ... Herself - Writer
Erroll McDonald Erroll McDonald ... Himself - Editor
Toni Morrison ... Herself
Paul Muldoon Paul Muldoon ... Himself - Poet
Jessye Norman ... Herself
Taiye Selasi Taiye Selasi ... Herself - Writer
Carl B. Westmoreland Carl B. Westmoreland ... Himself - The Freedom Center, Cincinnati


Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison is America's first lady of literature. Her books encompass black American history but live and breathe in the present, rich in vivid characters, haunted by ghosts. Born poor in Ohio in 1931, she now lives in New York. She tells Alan Yentob how her father hated whites so much he wouldn't let them in the house. Her masterpiece, Beloved, shows the horrors of slavery perhaps better than any other artwork. She talks as she writes - with warmth and wit. Contributors include Angela Davis (whose biography she edited) and singer Jessye Norman. Written by BBC

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Official Sites:

BBC) | Official site

Release Date:

14 July 2015 (UK) See more »

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Fascinating Extended Interview with One of America's Truly Great Authors
3 September 2015 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

Now well into her eighties, Toni Morrison occupied a special place in American literature as one of its greatest authors. She is still writing; her book GOD HELP THE CHILD appeared in April 2015.

In this extended interview/ biography with the hard-working Alan Yentob, Morrison recalls her life; her birth and her early move to Ohio to escape the consequences or racism; her sense of heritage acquired through hearing African American folk-tales; and her penchant for reading, with her favorite authors being Tolstoy and Austen.

In 1949 she went to Howard University, followed by Cornell; and spent her early career as a university teacher. She married in 1958 but divorced six years later; the couple had two children, one of them a recent victim of cancer. After the breakup of her marriage, she worked as an editor, first in Syracuse and later in New York City where she worked for a textbook publisher as a senior editor. Morrison later went to work for Random House, where she was responsible for bringing African American literature into the mainstream.

Her writing career began with the publication of THE BLUEST EYE (1970), but really took off with BELOVED (1987) which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the American Book Award. She gave up her publishing career and became a full-time writer.

Yentob's interview revealed her as a passionate personality, well aware of the strides made in the direction of racial equality since she began her writing career, yet still believing that more had to be done. She understood the writer's role as someone who could persuade as well as encourage. She is not a "feminist" per se, but someone firmly committed to equitable access.

Sometimes it appeared as if Yentob was not really conversant with her work - perhaps the researchers had not done their work properly - but nonetheless he managed to get to the heart of Morrison's writing and why she continues to publish. Despite physical infirmity, her mind is as sharp as ever, as shown through shots of her addressing a gathering and subsequently signing autographs for queues of admiring fans.

IMAGINE continues to be one of the best arts programs on television, neither talking down to its listeners nor assuming that any subject is too "highbrow" for intelligent treatment. The profile of Morrison is definitely worth a look.

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