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In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose Paperback – May 19, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Reflects not only the ideas but a life that has . . . breathed color, sound, and soul
into fiction and poetry—and into our lives as well.”

From the Back Cover

In her first collection of nonfiction, Alice Walker speaks out as a black woman, writer, mother, and feminist, in thirty-six pieces ranging from the personal to the political. Here are essays about Walker's own work and that of other writers, accounts of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the antinuclear movement of the 1980s, and a vivid, courageous memoir of a scarring childhood injury. Throughout the volume, Walker explores the theories and practices of feminists and feminism, incorporating what she calls the "womanist" tradition of black women.
"This is one of the healthiest collections of essays I have come across in a long time. . . . What [Walker] says about the black woman she says from the depths of oppression. What is said from the depths of oppression illuminates all other oppressions."-New Statesman

Alice Walker is the author of seven novels, three collections of short stories, three collections of essays, seven volumes of poetry, and several children's books. Her novel The Color Purple won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and her work has been translated into more than two dozen languages. Born in Eatonton, Georgia, Walker lives in northern California.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (May 19, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156028646
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156028646
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alice Walker (b. 1944), one of the United States' preeminent writers, is an award-winning author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, Walker became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Her other books include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and Possessing the Secret of Joy. In her public life, Walker has worked to address problems of injustice, inequality, and poverty as an activist, teacher, and public intellectual.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
On difficult days, which are more numerous than the peaceful ones here in South Korea, I re-read In Search Of Our Mothers' Gardens. I am always re-inspired, re-juvenated, re-centered and re-minded when I again encounter the soothing and healing words of the woman I have decided to claim aloud as my sister: Alice Walker. I take great pleasure in reading Be Nobody's Darling. This poem has affirmed me on those especially dismal days when I examine my differentness and wonder if it's worth the pain to have an outlook that is different from that of the mainstream. For more rigorous cleansing I enjoy her essay What Can I Give My Daughters Who Are Brave. This essay has been like a soothing balm for my battered spirit after a day of battling the various "ism's" (racism, sexism, homophobia etc. the list goes on) that are a part of everyday living on our modern planet. Alice Walker continues to give me so much.
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Format: Paperback
I have loved Alice Walker since I was 14. Granted, it has not always been an easy love. She speaks truths that I do not always find easy to hear. She makes statements that I have a difficult time agreeing with. At the same time, I find her writings wonderful, warm and insightful. She has a way of taking an everyday situation and making it resonate. Of special note in this book is Walker's (to me) classic essay on Flannery O'Connor. What could very easily have been a "what this author means to me" type of story, Walkers manages to tie it up with her own past, her relationships, the legacy of the South and Catholicism. It's one of my favorite essays of all time, and I am so glad to finally have my own copy to hold onto and read over and over again. This book is a good start for those who may have only read the Color Purple, but would liek to know more about Walker. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I first read "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens," the influential essay collection by Alice Walker, as a college undergraduate more than 10 years ago. Re-reading the book was a wonderful experience that reminded me how important Walker has been to so many people. The book opens with Walker's definition of the term "womanist": "a black feminist or feminist of color." The essays in this book, which span the late 1960s, the 1970s, and the early 1980s, thus represent the development of Walker's "womanist" vision.
The pieces include book reviews, letters to various publications, autobiographical pieces, and other prose selections. Many of her essays and reviews represent Walker's views on a range of literary figures: Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Flannery O'Connor, Phillis Wheatley, Buchi Emecheta, and many more. Particularly interesting is her essay about Rebecca Jackson, a 19th century African-American woman who joined a Shaker community. Especially important are Walker's writings about Zora Neale Hurston, whom she reclaims as a black literary foremother.
Other highlights include articles about Martin Luther King and his widow Coretta Scott King, and an account of a trip to Castro's Cuba. She also includes an article about "Conditions: Five," the important collection of writings by black lesbian and straight women.
Alice Walker may be best known to general audiences for her novel "The Color Purple," but "In Search..." reminds me of her skill and passion as an essayist. This is a collection which is, I believe, historically important for the academic field of women's studies. But it is not just a scholarly artifact; it is also a book that holds power and relevance that go beyond its historical moment.
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Format: Paperback
In her essay concerning post-Reconstruction African-American women, Alice Walker seeks to put a human face on what Americans may otherwise only remember as an unfortunate scar on our glorious history. She asks, "Who were the Saints? These crazy, loony, pitiful women?" And in answering herself, she replies in repetition, "our mothers and grandmothers." These are the human faces to which she has attributed all that is contemporary Black America.

"Moving to music not yet written," Walker's image of the former female slave is one, not necessarily of a battered laborer, nor of a heifer being kept only because of her ability to breed valuable livestock, but rather as an artist ahead of her time. These women made beauty while amidst horrible conditions. These women were not merely ex-slaves, but they were "Poets, Novelists, Essayists, and Short-Story Writers" whose potential was never met, and dreams were never realized. For this reason, Walker attempts to embolden and even mobilize African-American women with the responsibility of realizing the potential of black creativity denied their ancestors.

Walker asks, "Do you have a genius of a great-great-grandmother who died under some ignorant and depraved white overseers lash?" What an amazing question to ask. How many geniuses and artists were slain by the horror of slavery? Americans spend a lot of time and energy thinking about the economic, political, and social restrictions slavery imposed on African Americans, but I have never even heard elusions to the loss of black creativity due to slavery. I too have given more thought to the socioeconomic inequality within black America than I've ever given to the stifling of their creative ability.
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