Bestselling Book Author Alice Walker’s Literary Impact

By Rhonda Campbell

writer alice walker

Pic by Virginia DeBolt – Wikimedia Commons

Alice Walker, a novelist, short story writer, poet and political activist, gained critical and international acclaim after her book, The Color Purple, was published in 1982.  Born in the small town of Eatonton, Georgia (a city located in the state’s Putnam County), Alice Walker gained an appreciation for storytelling when she was a young girl. Her book, The Color Purple, a novel that became an international bestseller tells the story of Celie, a woman who was abused by her stepfather when she was a child.  Celie is uneducated at the start of the story.  She spends her youth and early adult years striving to protect her younger sister, Nettie, from the clutches of her stepfather, a hard, bitter man.

Abuse Suffered by Alice Walker’s Celie

After Celie is forced into marriage by her stepfather, she calls for Nettie.  Their stepfather had begun making advances at Nettie, abuses Celie would not allow to continue.  Nettie isn’t at Celie and her new husband’s house long when it becomes clear to Celie that she has placed her baby sister in harms way.  Celie’s husband, another abusive man with a brood of misbehaving children, wants Nettie.  Not even his mistress Shug seems to be enough.

Through unexpected events, Celie learns to read.  She is committed to gaining an education at a time when many women and African Americans did not have a college, much less, a high school degree.  It is this change that reveals Celie’s deep seated belief in herself.  This determination and other displays of resilience and tenacity that the character displays are one of The Color Purple’s most attractive ingredients.

Awards and Nominations for Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

The book takes place in Macon County, Georgia during the mid-1900s.  Written in diary format as personal messages from Celie to God, the bestselling novel went on to win the American Book Award and the renowned Pulitzer Prize.  Writer Alice Walker’s book was also nominated for the Book of the Year award. It is, perhaps, the sharp, honest and desperate pleas of the story’s characters, each screaming to be heard, understood and maybe most of all, loved, that drives the story, makes it hard to forget.

Two years after The Color Purple was published, Stephen Spielberg took it on as a movie project.  The 1985 movie version of the book went on to win several awards including the Blue Ribbon Award, the Classic Cinema Hall of Fame by Black Movie Awards, the Artios Award for Best Casting for a Feature Film by the Casting Society of America and an Image and Golden Globe, and rightfully so. Actresses and actors like Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey and Willard Pugh brought the story alive in a spectacular and emotionally moving fashion.

Wider Acclaim for the Literary Book Giant

The Color Purple was also nominated for 11 Oscar Awards.  Stephen Spielberg won the Directors Guild of America Award for Best Motion Picture Director.  The accolades kept coming; in 1987 the movie was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film by the Japanese Academy.

A decade after the movie version of The Color Purple appeared on the silver screen, media mogul, Oprah Winfrey brought the story to the live stage. The play opened for the first time on Broadway on December 1, 2005.  Two years later, the play began its first national tour. As if to show how long the legs of a good novel can extend, The Color Purple’s live stage performances have earned several Tony, Critics Circle, League and Theatre World awards.

More About Book Author Alice Walker

Award winning author, Alice Walker, has also written Why War Is Never A Good Idea, We Are The Ones We Have Been Looking For, Temple Of My Familiar, Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart, There Is A Flower At The Tip Of My Nose Smelling Me and You Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down.  The bestselling author’s books have been used as points of discussion in high school, colleges and universities.  Furthermore, community organizations continue to refer to the book when dealing with complicated relationships between men and women and siblings.

Alice Walker’s poems, short stories and novels deal with topics people around the world experience but may prefer to ignore, pushing hard experiences down inside themselves until the pain erupts in unexpected and ugly ways.  Walker’s smooth hand and obvious talent allow entertainment to serve as an effective guide and probing instrument.

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Sources: (The Color Purple on Stage) (Alice Walker’s Official Website)

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