American novelist Toni Morrison has died aged 88, according to her publisher.
Knopf and Random House said in an emailed statement it was "profoundly sad" to report the writer "died last night at Montefiore Medical Center in New York".
Her work was celebrated the world over but her novels also ignited controversy, notably in US school districts that tried to ban her books.
Few American writers won more awards for their books and writing: Morrison was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved.
In 1993, she was the first African-American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, with the Swedish Academy recognizing her as an author "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."
Morrison also worked as an editor at Random House — the first female African-American editor in company history — from 1967 to 1983.
The Morrison family issued a statement saying: “It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends.
"She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends.
"The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing.
"Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well-lived life."
Robert Gottlieb, Morrison’s longtime editor at Knopf, said: "She was a great woman and a great writer, and I don’t know which I will miss more."