Barack Obama and Beyonce among celebrities paying tribute to Toni Morrison

In a picture from Oct 20, 2009, author Toni Morrison is seen at a party in New York. The Nobel laureate died aged 88.
In a picture from Oct 20, 2009, author Toni Morrison is seen at a party in New York. The Nobel laureate died aged 88.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (AP) - Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, who transformed modern literature, has died. Here are reactions to the news.

Former American president Barack Obama, via Twitter: "Toni Morrison was a national treasure. Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful - a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy. She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. And so even as (former first lady) Michelle and I mourn her loss and send our warmest sympathies to her family and friends, we know that her stories - that our stories - will always be with us, and with those who come after, and on and on, for all time."

Host Oprah Winfrey via Instagram: "In the beginning was the Word. Toni Morrison took the word and turned it into a Song. of Solomon, of Sula, Beloved, Mercy, Paradise Love, and more. She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller. She was a magician with language, who understood the Power of words. She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them. It is exhilarating and life-enhancing every time I read and share her work."

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, director of this year's documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am: "I've been privileged to know Toni Morrison for nearly 40 years. During that time, she won many awards and accolades - the Nobel, a Pulitzer, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But for me, Toni has been a treasured collaborator, a monumental inspiration and, most importantly, a cherished friend. We will all miss her, but the gifts she left us - her written works that have transformed so many lives around the world - live educate, empower and nourish us."

Singer Beyonce on her website: "If you surrender to the air, you can ride it. Rest in paradise."

Novelist Walter Mosley, at a news conference: "The most important thing about Toni's work is that... she raised the black American experience to an international level but didn't forget that we were black people. That's a hard thing to do, and she's the first to manage it."

Former first lady Hillary Clinton, via Twitter: "If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it, Toni Morrison said. We are all so lucky to live in a world where she took her own advice and shared it with others."

Film-maker Barry Jenkins, via Twitter: "I just assumed Ms Morrison would live forever. And in so many ways in so many hearts and minds and spirits, she will."


Author Margaret Atwood, in a statement: "I was very saddened to hear of the death of the great American novelist Toni Morrison, a giant of her times and ours. Her novel, Beloved, is a heartbreaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all. That her strong voice will now be missing in this age of the renewed targeting of minorities in the United States and elsewhere is a tragedy for the rest of us."

Singer Bette Midler, via Twitter: "Toni Morrison has died. Just when we most need to hear her voice, she is gone. Thank you for the insights, the stories, and the poetry of your thought that have enriched us all these many years. Lay your burden down."