Toni Morrison in Conversation
Toni Morrison had set only one condition for the interview in her home in upstate New York: She did not want to be photographed. But any question was allowed, and she had no interest in polishing her answers afterwards. There was no need: Morrison spoke with the same clarity and musicality that distinguish her writing. She talked about racism and ‘whiteness’, the tension between memory and forgetting, and the art of writing about sex. She laughed a lot, sang stories from her childhood, and refused to say the name of the current US president. An hour was agreed, but the conversation lasted almost two.
Over the sink in Morrison’s guest bathroom, instead of a mirror, hung the framed letter from the Swedish Academy telling her that she had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. On the opposite wall, like another award, was a ‘Publication Denial Notification’ from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It informed Morrison’s publisher that her novel Paradise had been banned in Texas prisons because it might lead to rioting.