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Winfrey praises Toni Morrison at Manhattan dinner gala

NEW YORK — Oprah Winfrey was in town to praise one of her idols, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.

Winfrey spoke Tuesday night at a dinner gala in downtown Manhattan for the Center for Fiction, which presented Morrison a lifetime achievement award. The 87-year-old author was unable to attend, but Winfrey ensured her presence was felt, calling Morrison the country’s “conscience” and truth teller” and a “magician with words.” Morrison is known for such novels as “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon,” which in 1996 Winfrey selected for her book club.

The Center for Fiction, a non-profit which supports the reading and writing of literature, also gave awards to Tommy Orange for his debut novel “There There” and to the publisher of both Orange and Morrison, Alfred A. Knopf editor in chief Sonny Mehta.

The Associated Press