Acclaimed author and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison said she decided to endorse Barack Obama for president back in January because of his literary knowledge and abilities.
Morrison said she received a phone call from Obama seeking her support during the primaries. But before they got into politics, the author and the candidate had a little chat about literature.
“He began to talk to me about one of the books I had written, ‘Song of Solomon,’ and how it had meant a lot to him,” Morrison told the Associated Press in a postelection interview from her office at Princeton. “And I had read his first book (‘Dreams From My Father’). I was astonished by his ability to write, to think, to reflect, to learn and turn a good phrase. I was very impressed. This was not a normal political biography.”
Morrison, whose novel “A Mercy” comes out next week, decided to endorse Obama even though she was a friend and admirer of Hillary Rodham Clinton and had famously labeled Bill Clinton the country’s first black president. She released a statement at the time citing Obama’s “intelligence, integrity and rare authenticity,” and his “creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom.”
Morrison finds herself wondering how some of her late friends would have reacted, like James Baldwin (“How I miss him now,” she says), who in the 1960s had scorned as condescending Robert Kennedy’s prediction that the United States would have a black president in 40 years. Were “Invisible Man” author Ralph Ellison still alive, he would have renamed his classic novel “Visible Man,” Morrison joked.