Selected Shorts returns to Arts & Letters Live with a tribute to Toni Morrison, who died in August 2019. Her novels, including Beloved, Jazz, and Song of Solomon, have become an indelible part of the American canon. Her fierce, poetic visions articulated deep truths about racial injustice in America and earned her the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, a National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was also an editor, an advocate, a teacher, and a mother.
Hosted by award-winning author Yaa Gyasi (Homegoing, Transcendent Kingdom), this not-to-be-missed program features commentary on Morrison’s legacy by Fran Lebowitz along with readings of “The Dancing Mind,” “Sweetness,” and excerpts from Jazz and Sula by actors Brandon J. Dirden (All the Way), Joe Morton (Scandal), Anika Noni Rose (Little Fires Everywhere), and Charlayne Woodard (Ain’t Misbehavin’, Hair).
Toni Morrison (1931 - 2019) was the celebrated author of the novels The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, Jazz, Home, and God Help the Child, among others. Song of Solomon was the winner of the 1978 National Book Critics’ Circle Award. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved, which was subsequently adapted into a film. Morrison authored and edited several nonfiction books, including Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination; Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality; Birth of a Nation'hood: Gaze, Script, and Spectacle in the O.J. Simpson Case; Remember: The Journey to School Integration; and Burn This Book: Notes on Literature and Engagement. She is the subject of the documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. Morrison’s papers are part of the permanent library collections of Princeton University. Among Morrison’s numerous honors are the 1996 National Book Foundation's Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Norman Mailer Prize for Lifetime Achievement, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, the Edward MacDowell Medal, and several honorary doctorates. In 1994, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Selected Shorts is produced by Symphony Space and broadcast on more than 150 stations around the country. The Selected Shorts podcast consistently ranks as one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes. The series began in 1985 and enjoys sold-out performances to this day. Selected Shorts was conceived with a simple premise: take great stories by well-known and emerging writers and have them performed by terrific actors of stage and screen. Featuring stories around a lively theme, the favorite works of a guest author, or a special collaboration, each Selected Shorts event is a unique night of literature in performance.