Toni Morrison Was Going To Write A Memoir, But Decided Her Life Wasn't Interesting Enough

Toni Morrison declines to write memoir

Toni Morrison turned 80 this year. She has written 10 novels, 2 plays, and has edited or written no fewer than 7 works of non-fiction, including several anthologies. She was nominated for a Grammy, and has won the Normal Mailer Prize for Lifetime Achievement, the Nobel Prize for Literature, a Pulitzer, and about 20 other awards. Before she was an author, she was an editor at Random House, where she edited works by Angela Davis.

But, she said during a recent reading of her newest novel, Home, at Oberlin College, she would rather write fiction than a memoir. Because her life (the one that involves the Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize), she says, just isn't that interesting. 


Asked if she had any plans to write a memoir about growing up in Lorain, she said she'd actually signed a contract for her next book to be a memoir.

"But then I canceled it," she said. "My publisher asked me to do it, but there's a point at which your life is not interesting, at least to me. I'd rather write fiction."

Which forces me to wonder: if Toni Morrison isn't interesting enough for a anyone?

Confidential to Toni Morrison: I would read the pants off a memoir by you and would find it highly interesting, I swear. 

Confidential to Snooki: You wrote a memoir, right? That's....cute.

Image: Telegraph

Hanna Brooks Olsen

News by Hanna Brooks Olsen

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a freelance writer who lives in Seattle. She's a regular contributor to Seattle Pulp, where she also hosts a podcast, and an associate editor at Blisstree. Follow her on Twitter to see the kind of non-sequiturs that 20-somethings enjoy, as well as the occasional live-blogging of various political events. You may visit her online at

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Tai Ramos's picture
Tai Ramos from Brazil March 20, 2012 - 3:05pm

Snooki wrote a memoir, might as well start my own.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch March 20, 2012 - 8:52pm

I guess some writers do prefer fiction to listing events in their lives. I suspect whatever was more interesting about her life is already reflected in some way in her fiction, so I don't really resent her for giving up on the idea. I think it's her choice - if she thinks her first dog and her fights with her mom should stay in her memory only, then I accept that as long as she doesn't give up being a writer.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated March 21, 2012 - 12:21am

It's also possible that great achievements aren't interesting stories.

"I sat working on Beloved. It was always hard to write without coffee so I went to make some. We were out, so I had some lemonade.

It wasn't the same so I went to the A&P. They had a special on those encyclopedia/dictionary combos like they used to do. My dictionary was getting warn out so I picked one up with the Maxwell House. I planned to get a nicer one on my next trip to a good book store with a large reference section but this would do for the time being.

All the cars but mine glistened in the sun light. I knew it was time to stop by Malone's Washy Wash on the way home.

Upon my arrival Ray (the shift manager) said, 'Hi Toni! Been too long. You want the Works or the Quick Clean today?'"