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In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of Alice Walker’s Masterpiece

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Mixing cultural criticism, literary history, biography, and memoir, an exploration of Alice Walker’s critically acclaimed and controversial novel, The Color Purple   Alice Walker made history in 1983 when she became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Color Purple. Published in the Reagan era amid a severe backlash to civil ri Mixing cultural criticism, literary history, biography, and memoir, an exploration of Alice Walker’s critically acclaimed and controversial novel, The Color Purple   Alice Walker made history in 1983 when she became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Color Purple. Published in the Reagan era amid a severe backlash to civil rights, the Jazz Age novel tells the story of racial and gender inequality through the life of a 14-year-old girl from Georgia who is haunted by domestic and sexual violence.   Prominent academic and activist Salamishah Tillet combines cultural criticism, history, and memoir to explore Walker’s epistolary novel and shows how it has influenced and been informed by the zeitgeist. The Color Purple received both praise and criticism upon publication, and the conversation it sparked around race and gender still continues today. It has been adapted for an Oscar-nominated film and a hit Broadway musical.   Through archival research and interviews with Walker, Oprah Winfrey, and Quincy Jones (among others), Tillet studies Walker’s life and how themes of violence emerged in her earlier work. Reading The Color Purple at age 15 was a groundbreaking experience for Tillet. It continues to resonate with her—as a sexual violence survivor, as a teacher of the novel, and as an accomplished academic.   Provocative and personal, In Search of The Color Purple is a bold work from an important public intellectual, and captures Alice Walker’s seminal role in rethinking sexuality, intersectional feminism, and racial and gender politics.


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Mixing cultural criticism, literary history, biography, and memoir, an exploration of Alice Walker’s critically acclaimed and controversial novel, The Color Purple   Alice Walker made history in 1983 when she became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Color Purple. Published in the Reagan era amid a severe backlash to civil ri Mixing cultural criticism, literary history, biography, and memoir, an exploration of Alice Walker’s critically acclaimed and controversial novel, The Color Purple   Alice Walker made history in 1983 when she became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Color Purple. Published in the Reagan era amid a severe backlash to civil rights, the Jazz Age novel tells the story of racial and gender inequality through the life of a 14-year-old girl from Georgia who is haunted by domestic and sexual violence.   Prominent academic and activist Salamishah Tillet combines cultural criticism, history, and memoir to explore Walker’s epistolary novel and shows how it has influenced and been informed by the zeitgeist. The Color Purple received both praise and criticism upon publication, and the conversation it sparked around race and gender still continues today. It has been adapted for an Oscar-nominated film and a hit Broadway musical.   Through archival research and interviews with Walker, Oprah Winfrey, and Quincy Jones (among others), Tillet studies Walker’s life and how themes of violence emerged in her earlier work. Reading The Color Purple at age 15 was a groundbreaking experience for Tillet. It continues to resonate with her—as a sexual violence survivor, as a teacher of the novel, and as an accomplished academic.   Provocative and personal, In Search of The Color Purple is a bold work from an important public intellectual, and captures Alice Walker’s seminal role in rethinking sexuality, intersectional feminism, and racial and gender politics.

30 review for In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of Alice Walker’s Masterpiece

  1. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

    Salamishah Tillet's forthcoming book tells the story of The Color Purple by Alice Walker: the novel, the film, and the musical adaptation. It covers the origins of the novel, Alice Walker's family members that inspired the characters, and the novel's reception in the literary world and Black culture. Tillet's book is part history of the novel and its legacy, part biography of Walker, and part memoir of Tillet's personal connection to the book. It is split into three parts, each part is named aft Salamishah Tillet's forthcoming book tells the story of The Color Purple by Alice Walker: the novel, the film, and the musical adaptation. It covers the origins of the novel, Alice Walker's family members that inspired the characters, and the novel's reception in the literary world and Black culture. Tillet's book is part history of the novel and its legacy, part biography of Walker, and part memoir of Tillet's personal connection to the book. It is split into three parts, each part is named after a major character in the novel (Part 1: Celie, 2: Shug, 3: Sofia). Part 1 covers the novel, Part 2 covers the film adaptation, and Part 3 covers the musical adaptation and the novel's lasting legacy. I enjoyed learning more about Walker's familial foundations of the novel, how the film came to fruition including the search for cast members, and finally its lasting impact on women and especially sexual assault survivors. The strengths of this book is that Tillet was able to interview Alice Walker, Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Quincy Jones, and others, and not having to depend solely on archival sources. Ultimately this book is a love letter to The Color Purple, fans of the book or movie will thoroughly enjoy reading it, I sure did.  Thanks to NetGalley, Abrams Press, and Salamishah Tillet for a free ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. This book will be released on January 12, 2021.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    If you love Walkers the Color Purple then I recommend you check this book out. The breakdown of the book and Walker herself is truly something. In 1983 Walker made history when she became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Color Purple. In Salamishah Tillet’ s new book, In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece, Tillet explores the story behind the novel. Through extensive research through archives and Interviewing Alice Wa If you love Walkers the Color Purple then I recommend you check this book out. The breakdown of the book and Walker herself is truly something. In 1983 Walker made history when she became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Color Purple. In Salamishah Tillet’ s new book, In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece, Tillet explores the story behind the novel. Through extensive research through archives and Interviewing Alice Walker, Oprah Winfrey, those involved in the publication of the novel, the film and stage adaptation, we get a guided tour through the process of this masterpiece. I have read and seen, The Color Purple, that at this point in my life so many times that I have lost count. I have always been curious about the backstory of this book and Salamishah Tillet did an amazing job providing a near step by step on how everything came to be. I loved how Tillet was able to interweave her on personal experience with the book as well as providing the facts. I am aware that Steven Spielberg directed the film & Quincy Jones produced it. What I didn’t know was that Spielberg, limited characters Shug and Celie’s intimacy. The Color Purple, broke ground in terms of Black lesbian representation, and he explained the choice to have the two women kiss just once, and briefly because, “there would have just been too much on that one taboo.” Something else I learned was that during production, the film was the subject attacks, from Black male critics and community leaders who thought the novel—which explored the subjects of incest, childhood rape, and domestic violence within the context of a single family in the rural South of the 20s—promoted an image of Black men as violent and sexually aggressive. And lastly did you know that the film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won none! Like how? Beautiful structured and endless interesting facts, this book was such a treat to read. I love that I have rediscovered one of my all-time favorite books in a whole new way. Available now, thank you, @abramspress for this gifted copy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    If you are a fan of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Color Purple, or of the movie or Broadway musical, this book is for you. Salamishah Tillet read The Color Purple at age 15, and it left its mark, like it did for many. The book infuses Dr. Tillet’s memoir of her own experiences while also exploring Alice Walker’s life through research and interviews. In Search of the Color Purple is an intimate portrait, resonating, empowering, and beautifully illustrates how a book written nearly four dec If you are a fan of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Color Purple, or of the movie or Broadway musical, this book is for you. Salamishah Tillet read The Color Purple at age 15, and it left its mark, like it did for many. The book infuses Dr. Tillet’s memoir of her own experiences while also exploring Alice Walker’s life through research and interviews. In Search of the Color Purple is an intimate portrait, resonating, empowering, and beautifully illustrates how a book written nearly four decades ago continues to be timely, impactful, influential, and relevant today. Now I can say that Dr. Tillet’s book left its mark on me, much like The Color Purple did. As a young child I begged my mom to let me watch the movie. She saw it with me, and later discussed many of those tough topics. I had questions, many questions. I know I did not absorb all its truths. As a college student, I revisited this story via the book, and I’ve never forgotten that experience either. I was fortunate to have read it in a literature course with class discussions and a professor passionate about the book. I’m grateful to Dr. Tillet for this gift, a companion to a favorite of many; a treasure in itself. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    The best parts are the behind-the-scenes info. Celie’s story is largely that of Walker’s stepgrandmother plus tweaks. An editor thought the title was ‘too abstract’ and needed changing, which sounds like someone telling Wordsworth to lay off the daffodils. One of the Pulitzer judges wanted the award to go to a paperback reprint of Czeslaw Milosz’s morbid novel The Issa Valley, first published in the 50s and thereby breaching the award’s rules. Tina Turner was approached to play Shug Avery in the The best parts are the behind-the-scenes info. Celie’s story is largely that of Walker’s stepgrandmother plus tweaks. An editor thought the title was ‘too abstract’ and needed changing, which sounds like someone telling Wordsworth to lay off the daffodils. One of the Pulitzer judges wanted the award to go to a paperback reprint of Czeslaw Milosz’s morbid novel The Issa Valley, first published in the 50s and thereby breaching the award’s rules. Tina Turner was approached to play Shug Avery in the film but turned the role down. She’d lived that life already with Ike. It grates in places where Tillet tries to have her cake and eat it. Critics are right when they recognise the author’s genius, yet heavily implied to be jealous, thick, or prejudiced when they don’t. (Which must have included virtually everyone who reviewed The Temple of My Familiar.) Some biography on behalf of the author is useful - the reader can judge what kind of person is laying out the rules, and how much of it can be taken straight. But the constant references to Tillet’s life, however tragic, are too frequent to be as effective as they ought to be. One strong, stand-out piece at the end would have served better than several gushing, mediocre ones scattered throughout. This isn’t hagiography but Tillet’s account is a flattering one, which means it tells less than the full story. The predicament of the activist that speaks up for all women yet treats her own daughter appallingly is never once alluded to. There is a great book waiting to be written about Alice Walker. This one will have to do while we wait for it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amit Verma

    I am big fan of the book colour purple. It redefined my perception of a standard English bestseller. It didn't focus on structuring of plots and grammer and impressive prose and paragraphs. It focussed on emotions and tough circumstances. It stays with reader long after it gets completed. This books explores everything surrounding book. Life of Alice. Her family. Circumstances. Opposition and criticism. It also details backgrounds of characters of story and their impact on society. It was good to I am big fan of the book colour purple. It redefined my perception of a standard English bestseller. It didn't focus on structuring of plots and grammer and impressive prose and paragraphs. It focussed on emotions and tough circumstances. It stays with reader long after it gets completed. This books explores everything surrounding book. Life of Alice. Her family. Circumstances. Opposition and criticism. It also details backgrounds of characters of story and their impact on society. It was good to read about life of author and her struggles against difficulties. It is a nice read. Author relates her personal life with story. A very good book. Easily recommendable to fans of the colour purple.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I'm so glad I read this. Such an interesting examination of the history of The Color Purple: the novel, the film, and the Broadway show. I remember reading the book in college and then seeing the movie when it came out, but I wasn't as familiar with Walker's personal history, the book's reception, and the ways in which people both mobilized around and against the text (as well as the movie and the show). I was also deeply moved by Tillet's personal reflection on how and what the novel meant to h I'm so glad I read this. Such an interesting examination of the history of The Color Purple: the novel, the film, and the Broadway show. I remember reading the book in college and then seeing the movie when it came out, but I wasn't as familiar with Walker's personal history, the book's reception, and the ways in which people both mobilized around and against the text (as well as the movie and the show). I was also deeply moved by Tillet's personal reflection on how and what the novel meant to her as a Black woman, a survivor of sexual assault, a sister, a scholar, and now a mother. The book is as much literary autobiography as it is cultural and literary history. Affecting and fascinating.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tina McLaughlin

    In Search of The Color Purple was given to me by one of my Women’s Lit students after our class ended and we finished reading Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. It was a surprise gift and incredibly thoughtful. The contents of the book itself was even more of a surprise. Bringing together Alice Walker’s The Color Purple with Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and exploring these great works with the feminist/womanist movement and current Me Too Movement is powerful. Drawing together In Search of The Color Purple was given to me by one of my Women’s Lit students after our class ended and we finished reading Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. It was a surprise gift and incredibly thoughtful. The contents of the book itself was even more of a surprise. Bringing together Alice Walker’s The Color Purple with Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and exploring these great works with the feminist/womanist movement and current Me Too Movement is powerful. Drawing together Walker, Hurston, Steinem, Spielberg, Sanders, and Winfrey, Tillet illustrates the complex birth of The Color Purple into our culture. Through her own reflections and connections, Tillet illustrates the power of The Color Purple and the truth it holds for so many readers. I’m incredibly moved by Tillet’s book and it’s message of empowerment, hope, and forgiveness. As Alice Walker might say, it expresses the voice of our ancestors and whispers what is possible when we see the world with wonder and love. In Search of The Color Purple will inform my teaching of The Color Purple from this point forward. Thank you, Jo, for this beautiful gift.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This was an interesting read deconstructing the experience of Alice Walker and Salamishah Tillet with the Color Purple. It talks characterisation, pop culture revolution and how the Color Purple shaped public perception - including the controversies I hadn't realised due to it already being hailed a modern classic by the time I had heard of it and read it. This was an interesting read deconstructing the experience of Alice Walker and Salamishah Tillet with the Color Purple. It talks characterisation, pop culture revolution and how the Color Purple shaped public perception - including the controversies I hadn't realised due to it already being hailed a modern classic by the time I had heard of it and read it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Eleanor Patterson

    I wasn’t aware of this forthcoming title until I received an ARC from NetGalley, and I wonder why I’m not hearing more people talking about this important, engaging, and well-researched look into one of the most important modern novels. Like many, I have a personal connection to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple—I first read it when I was sixteen and coming to terms with my lesbian identity and beginning to diverge from the traditional, white, male-centered Western canon. Those who feel a strong c I wasn’t aware of this forthcoming title until I received an ARC from NetGalley, and I wonder why I’m not hearing more people talking about this important, engaging, and well-researched look into one of the most important modern novels. Like many, I have a personal connection to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple—I first read it when I was sixteen and coming to terms with my lesbian identity and beginning to diverge from the traditional, white, male-centered Western canon. Those who feel a strong connection to Walker’s seminal novel may, at first, approach Salamishah Tillet’s In Search of the Color Purple with hesitation, for it’s a study unlike any other, attempting to do justice to a vital cultural phenomenon. Tillet not only succeeds but does so with grace and ease. Split into three sections, each titled “Celie,” “Shug,” and “Sofia,” Tillet, through meticulous research, interviews, and personal experience, explores the story behind the The Color Purple as well as its film and musical adaptations. The “Celie” section is by far the best, for it tells the story of Walker’s conception and birth of the novel, and as a student of literature and creative writing myself, I was most interested in the author herself and her relationship to her work. However, the sections on the film and musical didn’t lose me for a minute—Tillet’s writing is at once literary and accessible and fully grounded in a modern context, which sheds light on the enduring effects of The Color Purple’s influence. In Search of the Color Purple is a short book, but it’s many things: a biography of a novel; an exploration of racism, sexism, sexual abuse, and healing; the tale of one woman’s connection to a beautiful story; and a case study on the relationship between literature, film, music, and culture. Tillet also places emphasis on the Black women in and around The Color Purple, which is exactly where it should be. On a technical level, it’s also a well-written and well-organized book, and Tillet’s personal experience meshes with her research and interviews beautifully. This is an important book about an important book. Read it for yourself and continue the conversation. “Even in her loneliest moments following the fallout of The Color Purple, Alice gave us another model: out of our pain, we could make art. Through our forgiveness, a new family could be born.”

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lianna Bessette

    I knew the outlines of a lot of what Tillet wrote here, but I appreciate the deeper details, particularly of Walker’s life and relationship with both the movie and the musical version of The Color Purple. I recommend this quick, engaging read to anyone who teaches or loves the novel!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan McGrath

    I received a digital advance reader’s copy of In Search of the Color Purple by Salamishah Tillet from the publisher (Abrams Press). In Search of the Color Purple is scheduled for release on January 12, 2021. In Search of the Color Purple is a nonfiction exploration of the story behind The Color Purple. Tillet approaches this exploration as both an academic and a person who continues to be deeply impacted by the story. To research this book, Tillet interviewed Alice Walker, Oprah Winfrey, and othe I received a digital advance reader’s copy of In Search of the Color Purple by Salamishah Tillet from the publisher (Abrams Press). In Search of the Color Purple is scheduled for release on January 12, 2021. In Search of the Color Purple is a nonfiction exploration of the story behind The Color Purple. Tillet approaches this exploration as both an academic and a person who continues to be deeply impacted by the story. To research this book, Tillet interviewed Alice Walker, Oprah Winfrey, and other individuals involved in the publication of the novel, the adaptation to film, and the adaptation to the Broadway stage. Tillet weaves together the stories behind the story with the effects the story had on her personally, as well as the waves that rolled from The Color Purple out into the world. I have read The Color Purple several times, as well as viewed the film adaptation. As a white woman, I could appreciate some of what the novel had to say. I also knew that as a white woman, there were layers below what I could see that I was unaware of. In Search of the Color Purple took me down into the story through the point of view of a black woman. Tillet has a deep understanding of the issues of race and feminism woven throughout the book, as well as an understanding of the intersection of race and feminism. This intersection was the largest piece that I had overlooked before, so reading this book opened up layers of the story that had been inaccessible to me. Tillet also explores how The Color Purple in its various formats was received by the world. As the novel was unafraid to address racism, sexism, incest, and abuse on the page, many people took issue with the story. Tillet’s exploration tackles these responses, considering why so many different views of the story came into being. While there were a few spots where Tillet’s writing was a bit rough or choppy, In Search of the Color Purple was an enlightening journey through the birth, live, and afterlife of a powerful story. I recommend this book to anyone who loves The Color Purple, or who thinks there might be more for them to understand about the story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Hogmire

    Thanks to Abrams and Publishers Weekly giveaways for an advance galley of this title, which came out on Jan 12, 2021-- In 1983, Alice Walker became the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for "The Color Purple," which also claimed that year's National Book Award. Walker's road to this achievement was a long and fraught one, but the harshest criticisms were yet to come. Salamishah Tillet's intriguing quick-read "In Search of the Color Purple" blends Walker's biography and the his Thanks to Abrams and Publishers Weekly giveaways for an advance galley of this title, which came out on Jan 12, 2021-- In 1983, Alice Walker became the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for "The Color Purple," which also claimed that year's National Book Award. Walker's road to this achievement was a long and fraught one, but the harshest criticisms were yet to come. Salamishah Tillet's intriguing quick-read "In Search of the Color Purple" blends Walker's biography and the history of her famous novel with memoir content and cultural criticism about the book's impact on Tillet and others. "The Color Purple" was heavily influenced by Walker's own family, with certain ancestors and experiences serving as direct inspirations for the book's characters. Tillet tracks Walker's life, from her activism work with Howard Zinn in college, to her championing of Zora Neale Hurston, to her friendship with Gloria Steinem and employment at Ms. magazine, etc. "In Search of the Color Purple" then follows Walker from the publication of the novel, to the release of the film, to both versions of the musical stage play. If the book "The Color Purple" was controversial for its critical portrayal of abusive Black men and openness about Black lesbianism, then the film version was viewed by many as an absolute outrage. Some Black men, including NAACP members, boycotted and picketed the film--claiming that its depiction of men played into sexual stereotypes about aggressive Black male sexuality, and that the film encouraged lesbianism as a better relationship option for Black women. Reviews of Walker and her work were often relentless, with critics lambasting her choices about Celie's speech and dismissing her use of the epistolary format. Despite all the political squabbles over the work, "The Color Purple" overall had an enormous influence on Black women and helped to normalize women coming forward with their stories about assault and abuse--like Oprah and Tillet herself. In today's political climate, the 1980s backlash to Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" seems both completely overblown and totally likely--all at the same time. I'd like to think that a contemporary work addressing domestic abuse and lesbianism in the Black community wouldn't be met with such ire, but I'm not sure. Given how many Black women in the BLM movement have been calling out Black men for their lackluster allyship, it's obvious that the intersection of racism and sexism is still a fraught issue. The story of Walker's novel further proves how vital intersectional politics are--fighting racism, sexism, and classism equally, without ranking an oppression's importance.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    An excellent exploration of Alice Walker's seminal novel. I read this on the instagram recommendation of Dr. Brittney Cooper, who is one of my intellectual/artistic guides, and who I trust to lead me towards good literature. My trust was well placed; I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The way it's set up into sections that focus on "Sophia," "Shug," and "Celie," is clever, and the weaving of an analysis of the book, and how important it is, with the real life stories and influences, is breathtaking An excellent exploration of Alice Walker's seminal novel. I read this on the instagram recommendation of Dr. Brittney Cooper, who is one of my intellectual/artistic guides, and who I trust to lead me towards good literature. My trust was well placed; I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The way it's set up into sections that focus on "Sophia," "Shug," and "Celie," is clever, and the weaving of an analysis of the book, and how important it is, with the real life stories and influences, is breathtaking. Salamishah Tillet is a wonderful writer whose personal experiences and clear love of the novel itself infuse her careful dedication to fleshing out its origins and its influence. I am only giving this book 4/5 stars because I felt the "afterword" was an unnecessary addition that took away from the slam-dunk ending it would have had without an epistolary, academic droning bookending it. What is particularly compelling here is how Tillet contextualizes "The Color Purple" itself -- a book that was ahead of tis time and is, still, in the world of "Me Too," ahead of its time. She illustrates clearly how Walker's novel had a purpose 'then,' and how it has a beautiful message/purpose 'now,' in an entirely different way, while still telling the same important, inspiring story. I should note that I read "The Color Purple" when I was in 6th grade - about 12/13 years old. I liked the book, but in reading Tillet's reflections here, it becomes (even more) obvious that at that age, I had no business reading it. Sure, I understood it - in the most straightforward of ways, in that I understood the beginning, middle, and end. But given that it was more "salacious" than anything I'd been allowed to ready, I really remember viewing it more as a triumph of my own intelligence: something I was getting away with my sneaking it under my mother's nose, and a book that had some sex scenes I wasn't familiar with. I'm glad my middle school library had this book - but reflecting on it now, it's a clear situation that exhibits why, regardless of how cool I thought I was, and how "advanced" my reading level was from a technical point, certain books need attention and maturity that just is not there in the mind of a fairly privileged little white girl in suburban Tennessee. I look forward to adding "The Color Purple" to my 2021 re-reading project, and I really look forward to experiencing it with a broader mind, and more intellect, so that I can more fully appreciate the iconic and necessary piece of art that it is.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paige Green

    Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of Alice Walker’s Masterpiece Author: Salamishah Tillet Book Series: Standalone Rating: 5/5 Diversity: real Black women and people Recommended For...: nonfiction Publication Date: January 12, 2021 Genre: Nonfiction Recommended Age: 15+ (sexual assault mention, race and racism, gender politics) Publisher: Harry N. Abrams Pages: 256 Synopsis: Alice Walker made history in 1983 w Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of Alice Walker’s Masterpiece Author: Salamishah Tillet Book Series: Standalone Rating: 5/5 Diversity: real Black women and people Recommended For...: nonfiction Publication Date: January 12, 2021 Genre: Nonfiction Recommended Age: 15+ (sexual assault mention, race and racism, gender politics) Publisher: Harry N. Abrams Pages: 256 Synopsis: Alice Walker made history in 1983 when she became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Color Purple. Published in the Reagan era amid a severe backlash to civil rights, the Jazz Age novel tells the story of racial and gender inequality through the life of a 14-year-old girl from Georgia who is haunted by domestic and sexual violence. Prominent academic and activist Salamishah Tillet combines cultural criticism, history, and memoir to explore Walker’s epistolary novel and shows how it has influenced and been informed by the zeitgeist. The Color Purple received both praise and criticism upon publication, and the conversation it sparked around race and gender still continues today. It has been adapted for an Oscar-nominated film and a hit Broadway musical. Through archival research and interviews with Walker, Oprah Winfrey, and Quincy Jones (among others), Tillet studies Walker’s life and how themes of violence emerged in her earlier work. Reading The Color Purple at age 15 was a groundbreaking experience for Tillet. It continues to resonate with her—as a sexual violence survivor, as a teacher of the novel, and as an accomplished academic. Provocative and personal, In Search of The Color Purple is a bold work from an important public intellectual, and captures Alice Walker’s seminal role in rethinking sexuality, intersectional feminism, and racial and gender politics. Review: I really like this book and that was behind the scenes but at the color purple. I have never watched it unfortunately, because I have not been able to own a copy of it. That was something that my parents didn't really watch so I didn't get to watch it. Even after reading the behind the scenes of it I do feel like I should go pick it up. I also really appreciate how very early honest this book was and showing the hardships that happened behind the scenes. Verdict: Highly recommend!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Matthews

    The Color Purple by Alice Walker is my favourite book of all time so when I saw there was a book about how that story came into being I knew I had to read it. Reading Tillet's book gave me the context of the novel as I hoped but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I got much more than that. Tillet bares herself to us as readers sharing her own experience of sexual assault, an experience which helped her resonate so strongly with the character of Celie who herself is sexually assaulted as a y The Color Purple by Alice Walker is my favourite book of all time so when I saw there was a book about how that story came into being I knew I had to read it. Reading Tillet's book gave me the context of the novel as I hoped but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I got much more than that. Tillet bares herself to us as readers sharing her own experience of sexual assault, an experience which helped her resonate so strongly with the character of Celie who herself is sexually assaulted as a young girl. Her strong connection with Celie and its feminist author, Alice Walker, caused Tillet to start the journey of understanding how the story came to be the phenomenon it is today. Along the way she learns the novel was not initially well received by critics and that the black community was largely unhappy with the way in which black men were portrayed. Tillet also learns the complicated story of the novel's depiction on screen and on stage. Strangely Steven Spielberg the director of the film, chose to discard the screenplay Walker wrote in favour of one that seemed to shy away from confronting some of the more difficult issues raised in the book. Walker herself did not like the film and felt it missed the message she was trying to convey. Having had this experience, she was understandably wary when she was approached by another white man to take the story to the stage. Ultimately, she agreed to the proposal and was happier with the stage version than the one on screen. However, Walker's experience both with the film and stage versions of The Color Purple speaks to a larger question of who gets to tell which stories and why own voices representation is so important. I thought Tillet did a good job of explaining why The Color of Purple is such an important book to her and the complicated story of its publication, its journey to the screen and its most recent incarnation on the stage. I learned things I didn't know about the original and appreciated Tillet's willingness to share details of her own life. This book is very much for fans of The Color Purple, those who haven't read the book or have no interest in reading it may find their minds wandering but for me it was an enlightening and enjoyable experience and has only further enshrined Walker's classic as one of my all time favourites.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brian Kinkead

    I read The Color Purple when it first came out in paperback almost forty years ago. It made a huge impression on me then. I was deeply moved by the story of racial and sexual violence. Salamishah Tillet’s book is about the evolution of The Color Purple and the profound impact it has had on many people, especially black women but also women generally. I read the book because of a genuine interest in the story of The Color Purple, but also, in the interest of transparency, because Salamishah Tille I read The Color Purple when it first came out in paperback almost forty years ago. It made a huge impression on me then. I was deeply moved by the story of racial and sexual violence. Salamishah Tillet’s book is about the evolution of The Color Purple and the profound impact it has had on many people, especially black women but also women generally. I read the book because of a genuine interest in the story of The Color Purple, but also, in the interest of transparency, because Salamishah Tillet and her husband and kids are family friends. I gave the book a five star rating because it’s a truly compelling story delivered in a well structured and beautifully written volume. The book tells us about how Alice Waters came to write The Color Purple, developing characters from her own family history. Salamishah Tillet also tells us about the intense controversy the book generated, especially in the African American community, something I was unaware of. The reader learns how The Color Purple was life changing for many people who read it, most notably Oprah Winfrey, who played the role of Sofia in the movie. It’s also a deeply personal and moving story about how The Color Purple helped Salamishah Tillet recover from deep trauma in her own life. The book gave me a whole new perspective on The Color Purple and it’s continued relevance in 2021. After almost 40 years, it’s time for me to read it again!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jill Burgin

    The. Color Purple was a masterpiece of a novel and will always be a timeless story for generations to discover. Alice Walker wrote a story that was a cultural phenomenon with a movie and stage adaptation, a political and feminist novel that received the highest praise and damming male criticism. It’s so deeply personal it affects readers in a profound way. It changed my life. I had the opportunity at a conference to approach Alice Walker and to tell how my world shifted and how radically differe The. Color Purple was a masterpiece of a novel and will always be a timeless story for generations to discover. Alice Walker wrote a story that was a cultural phenomenon with a movie and stage adaptation, a political and feminist novel that received the highest praise and damming male criticism. It’s so deeply personal it affects readers in a profound way. It changed my life. I had the opportunity at a conference to approach Alice Walker and to tell how my world shifted and how radically different I felt after reading her work, how I learned to own, understand and overturn my racism and work with other white women in anti-racist groups. of course, Alice replied that I had done that not her. So Alice, but I knew it was her work that motivated me and many of my white feminist movement contemporaries. I approached this biography of the novel by Salamishah Tillet with some hesitation but it was a loving, generous, interpretative look behind the scenes and the political climate. I am reading this book, written by another woman deeply moved by the original while the Capital riots by white supremists with Confederate flags is happening at the same time. It’s time to read The Color Purple by Alice Walker again, and get to work, again.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    In Search of the Color Purple, The Story of an American Masterpiece, Salamishah Tillet 5/5 💜 Thanks to #NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for a review. Salamisah explores the journey Alice Walker took to create The Color Purple, exploring both the book, film and broadway adaptions. Salamishah has discussions with those closest to Alice and Alice herself, discussing her life and the difficult paths she has taken to bring herself and the book where it is today. The Color Purple has over In Search of the Color Purple, The Story of an American Masterpiece, Salamishah Tillet 5/5 💜 Thanks to #NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for a review. Salamisah explores the journey Alice Walker took to create The Color Purple, exploring both the book, film and broadway adaptions. Salamishah has discussions with those closest to Alice and Alice herself, discussing her life and the difficult paths she has taken to bring herself and the book where it is today. The Color Purple has over the span of its lifetime been both beloved and reviled. Salamishah explores why so many have both connected with the novel and how so many rejected it. I love The Color Purple, by chance I only reread it a few weeks ago. I have always found Alice Walkers writing to be phenomenal. Celie, Shug and Sofia are characters who transcend the page. This in depth exploration of those characters beginnings, the work, the life behind it captures the conversation that had continued for years around sexuality, feminism, gender and racial politics. This is one of my favourite books I have read this year. Incredible.

  19. 4 out of 5

    BooksAndRae

    Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with an eArc of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book was really detailed and packed filled with information about the story behind The Color Purple by Alice Walker. There are many interviews found within this arc including one with Walker herself. By reading this book you will be able to look into what went on during the production of The Color Purple on stage and on Broadway. It was so interesting to hear all ab Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with an eArc of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book was really detailed and packed filled with information about the story behind The Color Purple by Alice Walker. There are many interviews found within this arc including one with Walker herself. By reading this book you will be able to look into what went on during the production of The Color Purple on stage and on Broadway. It was so interesting to hear all about the behind the scenes stories, knowledge and accounts of racism and feminism that shaped my deeper understanding of what was happening in the novel itself. Through the original novel, I was greatly interested in Walker's story and so I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of this book. Again thank you so much to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with a digital copy of this book. I had a wonderful time reading and learning more about the world and the academic thoughts and points that Tillet made and handled about The Color Purple.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    An in-depth and important exploration of Alice Walker’s seminal novel The Colour Purple, combining literary criticism, biography, social and cultural history, memoir and personal reflections. Comprehensive and thoughtful, it examines the novels’ importance, influence and continuing relevance. Essential reading to accompany The Colour Purple, offering as it does new and insightful perspectives leading to a deeper understanding of the text. The book is a subjective and personal exploration, for su An in-depth and important exploration of Alice Walker’s seminal novel The Colour Purple, combining literary criticism, biography, social and cultural history, memoir and personal reflections. Comprehensive and thoughtful, it examines the novels’ importance, influence and continuing relevance. Essential reading to accompany The Colour Purple, offering as it does new and insightful perspectives leading to a deeper understanding of the text. The book is a subjective and personal exploration, for sure, and it may be that not everyone will agree with some of the author's assertions, but I found the mix of subjectivity and objective analysis compelling and it’s certainly a book I will continue to refer to when re-reading The Colour Purple.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Valentine

    It’s difficult to express how much The Color Purple means to me. It’s a book that I revisit over and over finding new depths of understanding and friendship with each read. Somehow this book made me love it even more! In this work Salamishah Tillet delivers a love letter to The Color Purple, Alice Walker, and all of the people it’s impacted. She follows it through all its iterations from book, to movie, to play. I knew that the book encountered some controversy but being born in 1993 I had no aw It’s difficult to express how much The Color Purple means to me. It’s a book that I revisit over and over finding new depths of understanding and friendship with each read. Somehow this book made me love it even more! In this work Salamishah Tillet delivers a love letter to The Color Purple, Alice Walker, and all of the people it’s impacted. She follows it through all its iterations from book, to movie, to play. I knew that the book encountered some controversy but being born in 1993 I had no awareness of the scope of the negative critique surrounding its publication and eventual film. I’m still working through all my thoughts but in the meantime I’ll be recommending this to all my friends!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Magda M

    i think this book is one of the most important i've read lately. tillet speaks of alice walker, her family, the creation of the novel, the color purple , its film and musical adaptations, its reception, as well as the hand it played in opening up a larger social discussion on sexual abuse and trauma (thank you oprah!). tillet's writing style is excellent, this book moves, it captivates, it gives important insight into the color purple and the trials that the story and walker underwent. i think this book is one of the most important i've read lately. tillet speaks of alice walker, her family, the creation of the novel, the color purple , its film and musical adaptations, its reception, as well as the hand it played in opening up a larger social discussion on sexual abuse and trauma (thank you oprah!). tillet's writing style is excellent, this book moves, it captivates, it gives important insight into the color purple and the trials that the story and walker underwent.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    You could easily call this a biography of a book/movie. The reader learns exactly how the book was born, how the characters spoke to Walker and how Tillet herself relates to the book. It's everything you ever wanted to know about this legendary novel and more. Although it flows and reads well--accessible to an average reader-- it will no doubt also be used in academia to analyze Walker's work. Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. You could easily call this a biography of a book/movie. The reader learns exactly how the book was born, how the characters spoke to Walker and how Tillet herself relates to the book. It's everything you ever wanted to know about this legendary novel and more. Although it flows and reads well--accessible to an average reader-- it will no doubt also be used in academia to analyze Walker's work. Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    I really enjoyed this book! I love the idea of a book about a book that’s not academic, but a history, born personal history & larger world history. I guess this book is historiography - the history of a books history. Anyway. I wish the author had more deeply explored Alice Walker’s complicated and sometimes deeply problematic relationship to Jewishness.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bin Blogs Books

    Powerful, gripping and compelling, Salamishah Tullet sucks you into the journey of a writer on the road to writing one of America's at once most beloved and most hated classic stories, who's reach as spanned cultures and a generation. Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review. Powerful, gripping and compelling, Salamishah Tullet sucks you into the journey of a writer on the road to writing one of America's at once most beloved and most hated classic stories, who's reach as spanned cultures and a generation. Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Martha Samsell

    Book about how Alice walker wrote the book the color purple and analysis of writings of other African American women. Detailed account of walkers book and associations along the way and of course the importance of the novel.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elbrackeen Brackeen

    Wow. What a great trip back in time, I was all in to learn the history of this book. Through her own story, Tillet lovingly pulls together all the threads that connect The Color Purple (and Alice Walker) to our current world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rea Scott

    brb now i need to re-read the color purple...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jean Huber Bookmama789

    Have you read The Color Purple by Alice Walker? How about seeing the movie or the Broadway musical? . Thank you so much to @abramsbooks for this gifted copy of In Search Of The Color Purple by Salamishah Tillet! I was first introduced to Alice Walker’s novel when I was in middle school by watching the movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah. It was a story that stuck with me, and I was thrilled to start 2021 by reading the novel and then following it up with this book which is essentially the bio Have you read The Color Purple by Alice Walker? How about seeing the movie or the Broadway musical? . Thank you so much to @abramsbooks for this gifted copy of In Search Of The Color Purple by Salamishah Tillet! I was first introduced to Alice Walker’s novel when I was in middle school by watching the movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah. It was a story that stuck with me, and I was thrilled to start 2021 by reading the novel and then following it up with this book which is essentially the biography of this amazing story. . Synopsis from the publisher: Alice Walker made history in 1982 when she became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Color Purple. Published in the Reagan era amid a severe backlash to civil rights, the Jazz Age novel tells the story of racial and gender inequality through the life of a 14-year-old girl from Georgia who is haunted by domestic and sexual violence. Prominent academic and activist Salamishah Tillet combines cultural criticism, history, and memoir to explore Walker’s epistolary novel and shows how it has influenced and been informed by the zeitgeist. The Color Purple received both praise and criticism upon publication, and the conversation it sparked around race and gender still continues today. It has been adapted for an Oscar-nominated film and a hit Broadway musical. Through archival research and interviews with Walker, Oprah Winfrey, and Quincy Jones (among others), Tillet studies Walker’s life and how themes of violence emerged in her earlier work. Reading The Color Purple at age 15 was a groundbreaking experience for Tillet. It continues to resonate with her—as a sexual violence survivor, as a teacher of the novel, and as an accomplished academic. . This book was a beautiful companion to Alice Walker’s controversial masterpiece. I loved gaining a deeper understanding of all that went into the creation of this story, that is just as powerful today as when it was first published. This book is out now! TW: rape, physical abuse, and sexual assault.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily

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