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Alice Walker
Alice Walker in Berkeley, California, April 1983. Walker uses a variety of narrative forms and levels of diction to create vivid, memorable, and larger-than-life characters.

Alice Walker, (1944-...), is an African American writer. In her novels, short stories, poetry, and essays, Walker writes about black and white people living in America and Africa in differing economic circumstances. She uses a variety of narrative forms and levels of diction to create vivid, memorable, and larger-than-life characters. Her novel THE COLOR PURPLE (1982) won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Walker creates joyous communities of blacks in which women, not men, are the powerful figures. Unlike some other black writers, Walker seldom blames white culture for the tragic events in the lives of her black characters. She has been criticized for this view. But she also has been praised for expressing a positive philosophy about being black and female.

Walker's novels include THE THIRD LIFE OF GRANGE COPELAND (1970), MERIDIAN (1976), THE TEMPLE OF MY FAMILIAR (1989), POSSESSING THE SECRET OF JOY (1992), BY THE LIGHT OF MY FATHER'S SMILE (1998), and NOW IS THE TIME TO OPEN YOUR HEART (2004). Her poetry is collected in ONCE: POEMS (1968), REVOLUTIONARY PETUNIAS & OTHER POEMS (1973), and ABSOLUTE TRUST IN THE GOODNESS OF THE EARTH: NEW POEMS (2003). Some of her short fiction has been published in IN LOVE & TROUBLE: STORIES OF BLACK WOMEN (1973). She became a major figure in feminism -- which she called "womanism" -- through such writings as IN SEARCH OF OUR MOTHERS' GARDENS: WOMANIST PROSE (1983) and LIVING BY THE WORD (1988). These collections of essays, speeches, and letters focus on Walker's experiences as a black woman in America, and on racial and class inequality.

Alice Malsenior Walker was born in Eatonton, Georgia, on Feb. 9, 1944. She was the youngest of eight children of black sharecroppers.

Linda Wagner-Martin, Ph.D., Hanes Professor of English, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

From THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA © 2007 World Book, Inc. By permission of the publisher. Visit World Book Encyclopedia for more information on Alice Walker and related subjects.

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