From Publishers Weekly
In this vibrant narrative, White strives to go beyond simply mapping the movements and accomplishments of the first black female Pulitzer Prize winner. While White relies heavily on interviews with Alice Walker (b. 1944), her family and friends, the stories are always told in a historical context. Walker's childhood as a daughter of Georgia sharecroppers is framed by what it meant to be a poor black female in the Jim Crow South. White particularly focuses on an accident that transforms the eight-year-old Walker from talkative and precocious to introverted and sad. Walker was shot with a BB gun and left disfigured and blind in one eye, and her father was refused a ride to transport the injured girl into town and swindled out of $250 by a white doctor. These events, according to White, brought the young Walker to a new level of understanding of the inhumanity of Southern racism and later moved her to search and reveal, through her writings, the depths of human suffering. This understanding also drove Walker to become active in various causes, most notably the Civil Rights and black feminist movements. From beginning to end, White (The Black Women's Health Book
), in her first biography, meticulously traces and analyzes the stages of Walker's life, emphasizing the impact on and importance of her literature in American culture.
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Walker's probing writing and serene manner have been a fixture on the literary scene for decades. White traces the roots of that serenity and probing spirit in this penetrating look at a woman who rose from a family of Georgia sharecroppers to an esteemed career in literature. A childhood accident blinded Walker in one eye, setting her on an approach to a life of close observation. Stifled by the rigidity of Spellman, Walker moved on to Sarah Lawrence, and eventually became a civil rights volunteer in the cauldron of racial tension that was Mississippi in the 1960s. Drawing on interviews with Walker, her family, friends, lovers, and colleagues, White chronicles Walker's illegal abortion, interracial marriage, bisexual and multiracial relationships, abiding championing of women's causes, and support of black women writers, notably Zora Neale Hurston. Walker paid a personal and professional price for eschewing the orthodoxy of race and sex, primarily following the uproar attending the publication of The Color Purple
. Admirers of Alice Walker's honesty, integrity, and talent will love this book. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved