Alice Walker

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Alice Walker, born in Eatonton, Georgia in 1944, overcame a disadvantaged sharecropping background, blindness in one eye, and the tense times of the Civil Rights Movement to become one of the world's most respected African American writers. While attending both Spelman and Sarah Lawrence Colleges, Walker began to draw on both her personal tragedies and those of her community to write poetry, essays, short stories, and novels that would tell the virtually untold stories of oppressed African and African American women, providing readers with hope and inspiring activisim. Perhaps best known for her novel The Color Purple (1982), which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 and became a controversial film three years later, Walker has introduced and developed womanist theory, criticism and practice, and continues to champion the causes of women of color by encouraging their strength and liberation in her life and her writings.

Literary works analyzed in this volume: The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Color Purple, The Temple of My Familiar, Possessing the Secret of Joy, By the Light of My Father's Smile, The Way Forward Is With a Broken Heart, Now is the Time to Open Your Heart.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] volume invaluable to understanding her early influences and creations. From her top Color Purple to Meridian and six other works, analysis of her literature, politics, activism and more surveys her feminist theories, practices and impact. Recommended for any college where Alice Walker's works are taught."


Midwest Book Review/MBR Bookwatch

"Are the works of Alice Walker studied in your curriculum? If so, consider this book….Although not all criticism is created equal, this work is as good as any, providing the advanced high school student with substantive materials for analysis….Recommended."


Teacher Librarian

"[C]overs all of Walker's major works (1970-2004), specifically The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Color Purple, The Temple of My Familiar, Possessing the Secret of Joy, By the Light of My Father's Smile, The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart, and Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart: A Novel. The first two chapters provide biographical information and literary context; the latter is particularly well crafted and useful. Bates makes a point of tracing the themes, characters, and events in Walker's novels to her biography. She notes the influence on Walker of her mother and of literary women of color, especially Harriet Wilson and Zora Neale Hurston. Like other books in this series, this one will be particularly useful to those approaching the author for the first time. Recommended. Lower-/upper-division undergraduates; general readers."



"The book about Walker offers biographical information and literary context in the first two chapters. Bates relates the themes, characters, and events of Walker's novels to her life covering the influence her mother and other literary women of color had on her life."


MultiCultural Review

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Product Details

Meet the Author

GERRI BATES is Associate Professor of English, African American Literature, and Women's Literature at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland. She is a founding member of the Middle Atlantic Writers Association and author of numerous articles on African American literature.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword by Kathleen Gregory Klein


The Life of Alice Walker

Literary Contexts

The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970)

Meridian (1976)

The Color Purple (1982)

The Temple of My Familiar (1989)

Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992)

By the Light of My Father's Smile (1998)

The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart (2000)

Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart (2004)



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