In a new series of Talking Books, Razia Iqbal talks to four authors from the United States.
In the first programme she is in Rome, at the American Academy, to meet one of America's most-celebrated authors.
Toni Morrison is the only black woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and her books have been described as amongst the most-important in modern America.
Her novels explore the pain and shame of racism in a unique style that mixes speech, magic and poetry, often to tell brutal stories.
For Morrison 'all good art is political.
She backed Obama in the 2008 election and has spoken out against racism and censorship.
Razia Iqbal asks her how much has changed for black Americans since Obama entered the White House?
(Image: President Barack Obama prsenting the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor to author Toni Morrison. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)