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Walker, Alice

american novel color figure

(US, 1944– )

Walker's subject is the racial repression and segregation of black women. She was born into a sharecropper family in Georgia and uses that as a background to many of her more important works. In Meridian (1976) Walker first developed her strategy of ‘writing as quilt-making’. The novel is not a straightforward narrative but a series of short episodes told by different characters. The central figure, Meridian Hill, leaves her teenage marriage and child to go to university and join the civil rights movement. Walker questions official attitudes to the movement, whether white American or male African-American, and the nature of political involvement. In The Temple of My Familiar (1989) Walker explores the theme of an ancestral African spirituality, which is also one of the concerns of her most famous book, The Color Purple (1982) Pulitzer Prize 1983. In this novel the central figure, Celie, is abused by her stepfather and her husband and learns to value herself through a lesbian relationship with her husband's mistress, Shug, a singer. In The Color Purple Walker demonstrates that it is possible to make political and social change by changing the nature of sexual relations. Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992) explores the horrors of female circumcision.

Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor. See UNITED STATES OF AMERICA  LM

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