Nobel laureate Toni Morrison honored by Authors Guild

FILE - In this May 29, 2012 file photo, author Toni Morrison receives her Medal of Freedom award during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Nobel literature laureate Morrison and James Patterson received Distinguished Service Awards at the Authors Guild's 25th annual gala in New York City on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Toni Morrison praised the power of literature and the “community” of writers. James Patterson told some jokes, and even sang.

Both received Distinguished Service Awards Wednesday night at the 25th annual Authors Guild dinner gala, held in Manhattan. The Guild, which represents thousands of published writers, also gave a service award to the heads of the self-publishing platform IngramSpark.

The 86-year-old Morrison, who won the Nobel literature prize in 1993, was cited by longtime editor Robert Gottlieb for literary achievements in such novels as “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon,” and for her contributions as an editor and educator.

“We’re all here together,” Morrison reminded the audience, which included such fellow authors as Erica Jong and Walter Mosley. “We are a necessary community.”

Morrison warned of the dangers of “ignorance,” and called for language to be given its rightful place as a force of “power” and “eloquence,” rendered “one book at a time.”

Patterson, 70, was honored not only for his extraordinary commercial success, more than 300 million books sold worldwide, but also for donating millions of dollars to librarians, booksellers and schools.

Patterson’s productivity is hard to match. He sometimes turns out best-sellers on a monthly basis. The man who negotiates his book deals, Washington attorney Robert Barnett, was not kidding Wednesday night when he said that Patterson’s latest contract called for 22 books, to come out in two years.

Patterson spent much of his speech mocking his own image. He conjured a daily ritual in which he wrote multiple outlines for novels in the morning and ordered a gaggle of co-writers, kept under lock and key, to finish the job.

There were jokes about President Donald Trump, a gag about writing a “truer than truer crime” book with Russian President Vladimir Putin, some profanity and, to top it off, a few words from the song “You Light Up My Life.”

“I did not steal that from Will Ferrell’s speech at USC,” he added. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s