The Third Life of Grange Copeland  (1970) novel

Meridian  (1976) novel

The Color Purple  (book 1982; novel won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983; film 1985)

The Temple of My Familiar  (1989) novel

Possessing the Secret of Joy  (1992)

By the Light of My Father's Smile  (1998) novel


The Third Life of Grange Copeland, 1970

Her first novel The Third Life of Grange Copeland: Alice's novel received literary praise but also criticism. It traces a family's attempt to conquer a kind of emotional slavery that existed across three generations. The story involves the murder of a woman by her husband. Many African-American critics said she dealt too harshly with the black male characters in her book. Alice rebutted such claims, saying that women are all too often abused by men they love.

Meridian, 1976

Meridian is set in the American South during the 1960s and early '70s. The heroine, Meridian, is a black woman from a southern town. She marries, has a child, gets a divorce, sends her child away, and ends up working in a voters' registration campaign, encouraging African-Americans to register. Meridian is different from her co-workers in that she interacts with people as individuals, rather than by stereotyping them. For example, while others lecture black families about the importance of voting, Meridian sits and talks with them, trying to address their basic needs of food, heat, and affection.

As years pass, her co-workers quit and move into comfortable houses. She moves deeper south, living in whatever housing the community can afford to give in exchange for her constant work on their behalf. Frequently, after staging a rally or other event, Meridian develops partial paralysis. She grows more and more ill. A halo-like light surrounds her head as she thinks of the history of her people and of her role in that history. She ultimately heals herself and moves to the next small town.

The novel takes a complicated look at black-white and black-black relations. It seems inadequate in this novel either to see people solely in terms of race or solely in terms of individual personalities. A large section of the novel deals with a marriage between a white woman and a black man. Walker seems to support an ethics based on personal interaction more than on universal rules.

The Color Purple, 1982

A great book written in the epistolary tradition. Celie, a victim of incest and an abusive marriage, writes letters first to God and then to her sister Nettie who has gone to Africa. It is the story of how Celie creates a self-image and eventually finds love and spirituality. Published in 1982, it won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1983.

The Temple of My Familiar, 1989

This vibrant tale of three pairs of lovers spans three continents and thousands of years of evolution. The tale explores the depths of human character, history, myths and legends to uncover beauty and joy. "Walker's characters are magnetic, even with their all-too-human flaws and stumbling; they seem to contain the world, and to do it justice."


Possessing the Secret of Joy, 1992


By the Light of My Father's Smile, 1998

the book examines the connections between sexuality and spirituality. The multi-narrated story of several generations explores the relationships of fathers and daughters. As in previous fiction, Alice weaves back and forth through time and individual perspectives and her characters come to understand the timeless, shared and spiritual meanings of love.