Alice Walker

Alice Walker, 1944–, African-American novelist and poet, b. Eatonon, Ga. The daughter of sharecroppers, she studied at Spelman College (1961–63) and Sarah Lawrence College (B.A., 1965). She brings her travel experience in Africa and memories of the American civil-rights movement to an examination of the experience of African Americans, mainly in the South, and of Africans. A self-described "womanist," she has maintained a strong focus on feminist issues within African-American culture. Walker won wide recognition with her novel The Color Purple (1982; Pulitzer Prize; film, 1985), a dark but sometimes joyous saga of a poor black Southern woman's painful journey toward self-realization. Among her other novels are Meridian (1976), The Temple of My Familiar (1989), By the Light of My Father's Smile (1994), and Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart (2004). Her short-story collections include You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down (1981) and the partially autobiographical The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart (2000). She has also written poetry, such as Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (1973), Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems 1965–1990 (1991), and Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth (2003). Many of her essays are collected in Living by the Word (1988) and Anything We Love Can Be Saved (1997).

See biography by E. C. White (2004); studies by D. W. Winchell (1992), H. L. Gates et al., ed. (1993), and Ikenna Dieke, ed. (1999).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Alice Walker
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1989
Critical Essays on Alice Walker
Ikenna Dieke.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Green Lap, Brown Embrace, Blue Body: The Ecospirituality of Alice Walker
Smith, Pamela A.
Cross Currents, Vol. 48, No. 4, Winter 1998
"You Just Can't Keep a Good Woman Down": Alice Walker Sings the Blues
Johnson, Maria V.
African American Review, Vol. 30, No. 2, Summer 1996
Alice Walker's The Color Purple
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 2000
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
Great American Writers: Twentieth Century
R. Baird Shuman.
Marshall Cavendish, vol.11, 2002
Librarian’s tip: "Alice Walker" begins on p. 1561
Black Imagination and the Middle Passage
Maria Diedrich; Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Carl Pedersen.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 18 "Sexual Violence and the Black Atlantic: On Alice Walker's Possessing the Secret of Joy" and Chap. 19 "Alice Walker, Activist: Matron of Forward"
Alice Walker: "I Know What the Earth Says."
Ferris, William R.
Southern Cultures, Vol. 10, No. 1, Spring 2004
Destroying to Save: Idealism and Pragmatism in Alice Walker's "Everyday Use"
Sarnowski, Joe.
Papers on Language & Literature, Vol. 48, No. 3, Summer 2012
Aesthetic Modes in Afro-American Fiction: Alice Walker and Ralph Ellison
Nama, Charles.
Kola, Vol. 21, No. 1, Summer 2009
In Spite of It All: A Reading of Alice Walker's "Everyday Use"
Whitsitt, Sam.
African American Review, Vol. 34, No. 3, Fall 2000
Race, Gender, and Desire: Narrative Strategies in the Fiction of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker
Elliott Butler-Evans.
Temple University Press, 1989
Contemporary Fiction
Jago Morrison.
Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "Writing as Activism: Alice Walker"
The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Oxford University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Color Me Zora: Alice Walker's (Re) Writing of the Speakerly Text
Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook
Emmanuel S. Nelson.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Alice Walker" begins on p. 458
Alice Malsenior Walker: An Annotated Bibliography, 1968-1986
Darnell D. Pratt; Louis H. Pratt.
Meckler, 1988
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