Toni Morrison awarded France's Legion of Honour
US author Toni Morrison, whose poetic novels on slavery and the black American experience earned her the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, was Wednesday awarded France's highest decoration the Legion of Honour.
Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand handed the award to Morrison, who received the Pulitzer for her best-known work "Beloved" in 1988 and the Nobel Prize for Literature five years later in 1993.
"I want to tell you that in our eyes you embody the best part of America, that which founds its love of liberty on the most intense dreams," Mitterrand told the award ceremony in Paris.
"The one that allowed a black child born into a poor family in deepest Ohio, in the years of segregation, to have the exceptional destiny of the greatest American woman novelist of her time."
Morrison, who is to unveil a memorial bench marking the abolition of slavery in Paris on Thursday along with members of the Toni Morrision Society, told the gathering she had "always felt welcomed in France.
"And it is important to me to receive this medal, la Legion d'honneur, because now I know in addition to being welcome, I am prized."
© 2010 AFP