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The Temple of My Familiar
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The Temple of My Familiar

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  10,262 ratings  ·  326 reviews
A visionary cast of characters weave together their past and present in a brilliantly intricate tapestry of tales.It is the story of the dispossessed and displaced, of peoples whose history is ancient and whose future is yet to come. Here we meet Lissie, a woman of many pasts; Arveyda the great guitarist and his Latin American wife who has had to flee her homeland; Suwelo, ...more
Paperback, 417 pages
Published December 2nd 2005 by Washington Square Press (first published January 1st 1989)
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“Long will we remember pain, but the pain itself, as it was at that point of intensity that made us feel as if we must die of it, eventually vanishes. Our memory of it becomes its only trace. Walls remain. They grow moss. They are difficult barriers to cross, to get to others, to get to closed-down parts of ourselves.” - Alice Walker, The Temple of my Familiar

It’s quite an intimidating feat to review this book. The Temple of my Familiar is such a rich, multi-layered story, the kind that you ca
Alice Walker is reputedly one of the most well-known, yet most difficult post-modern authors to read, and The Temple of My Familiar makes both of these reputations known. Why is it difficult? In an effort to present life, and I mean life as in the history of man (and other creatures) in this world throughout time, there's no doubt that the result of this feat would be a difficult read. Walker's novel travels in a non-linear way through time, covering South America, North America, Africa, and Eng ...more
"Obenjomade, clean out your ears: THE WHITE MAN IS STILL HERE. Even when he leaves, he is not gone."

"Obenjomade, cup your endearingly large ears: EVERYONE ALL OVER THE WORLD KNOWS EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT THE WHITE MAN. That's the essential meaning of television. BUT THEY KNOW NEXT TO NOTHING ABOUT THEMSELVES."

"If you tear out the tongue of another, you have a tongue in your hand for the rest of your life. You are responsible, therefore, for all that person might have said."

Folk Memory,

I'm ashamed to admit that this one sat on my shelves for perhaps 15 years. But clearly, there was a reason I held onto it: it is a beautiful, magical, devastating, lyrical treat! Even though the narrative drifts like a winding river among a cast of intertwined characters, plots, and settings, somehow they are all connected. I can't recommend this book highly enough, but I must warn you to be patient. I urge you to just pick it up and go with the flow. Not all questions are answered in the end, b
This book was a different experience than most books.

I initially was swept in by the writing. I felt like I could touch the scenes.

I am actually a big narrative person, i.e. I usually like a great story line. This did not disappoint, but it was more about the characters. It reminded me of Grapes of Wrath in that it wasn't until I read the final chapters of the book that the story line rushed over me and revealed its excellence.

Written by Alice Walker, the book explores African-American culture,
Obviously I must be unpacking all my favorite books! I read this in college and it changed my life, opened my eyes to some beautiful ideas and meanings about life, feminism, love, and spirituality. There is magic, tribal wisdom, african myths, goddess worship, reincarnation, a little of everything! It was the first time I was able to see that there is wisdom is so many faiths and beliefs and you can respect them without having to declare allegiance to them. If I did have a familiar, I believe it ...more
OMG, did I ever hate this book. I loved The Color Purple, so I thought I'd like this.

It jumps around like crazy and includes new characters far more often than it refers back to ones we've already met. I got so sick of trying to keep track of characters that I finally threw it down in disgust. Irritating and a waste of time.
"In Uncle Rafe's house Suwelo always seemed to himself to be in a rather idle state of mind. His life had stopped, at least the life he thought he was building with Fanny, at he was suspended. He sometimes felt literally as if his feet did not touch upon the ground. It was a relief. And at times too, he simply thought, something that money, enough to keep you going for a while without worrying, permitted you to do. Another of the many advantages of the rich, but only if they were clever enough n ...more
is there a bookshelf called "to re-read?" this is definitely one of those. and i'm not even done with it.
several metaphors come to life in this book, but one scene that I see as representative of the entire novel, is where Lissie is showing Suwelo several different pictures of herself taken in one day. Except the woman in each picture is distinctly different from the next. and from the clothing you can tell that they are also different time periods. but they are all of Lissie. Lissie explains th
This book shook me. It comforted me while at the same time making me extremely uncomfortable, and at first I was upset by that. Then I thought, "What's the use of a book if it doesn't make you challenge your own thoughts?"

It took me a good while to read all the way through because I kept stopping to chew over what it handed me, and in the end I'm not entirely sure I understood it in spite of all that ruminating. Its scope is truly phenomenal in terms of time alone, and then there are the people
3.99 star average? Really? That makes The Temple of My Familiar one of the most highly rated books I've come across on Goodreads. Way ahead of most of the 1001 books to read before you die. Well I don't get it. At all. Are we all being PC? Did we genuinely enjoy this overwrought wrangling with the ideas of feminism, "normal" relationships, colour and love? I sincerely believe that to be an honest and decent person today, you have to be connected with your past, and to understand the sacrifices m ...more
Grateful to be in a book club that makes me read books like this one. Thanks Alison for choosing it.

It is a rare gift to find a book that challenges racism, sexism, colonialism, heterosexism, stifling monogamous culture, and similar while managing to NOT be pedantic and to weave a rich narrative tapestry around its characters. A book about how all things and people are connected, it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from The Gulag Archipelago:

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the lin
I really loved this book. I read it way back in college, as part of a literary class. We read a book a week, and NO ONE in the class finished this book in a week (we all managed to finish all of the other books on time). No. One! The reason we decided upon is that it's a book to read in chunks, to mull over what you read for a bit, and then go back to it later on and read some more. I have reread the book a few times over the years, and have always found the same to be true - that I can only rea ...more
Betsy Curlin
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I did not read her first book, The Color Purple, and perhaps that is why I love this book so much. I was not influenced by the style of her earlier book. The writing is lyrical, imaginative, and intricate. I was so swept into this world that I didn't want the book to end. Just the pure beauty of the writing, along with the intricate mythology is reason enough to read this book. I need to re-read it just for the sensual experience.
Jeremy Garber
Walker's book is a challenging read, in many aspects of 'challenge.' Walker's book follows the intertwinings of a particular family throughout all of known (and unknown) history. Through this device, Walker proposes her own alternate mythology of origin, a state of grace where humans and animals lived in peace until the formation of race and gender caused a fall into arrogance and violence. We see characters of all genders, orientations, and ethnic backgrounds struggling with survival and the di ...more
Kathy Kattenburg
Alice Walker knows how to write. And her beautiful use of language is why this book gets two stars instead of one.

Apart from her writing proficiency, as a novel, as a story (at least, what I assume she intended as a story), I actively disliked "The Temple of My Familiar." It's not a coherent or connected narrative. It's mainly a collection of long, pretentious speeches by the various characters about racism, relationships, sex, and reincarnation. There is no plot. There is no character developm
Lisa James
This story takes you on a journey. It's Suwelo's journey back to take care of things after the death of his Uncle Rafe. It's the journey of Miss Lissie over a span of thousands of years & many lifetimes. It's the journey of Fanny in her search for herself. It's the journey of Carlotta & Arveyda in their love, troubles, & finding each other again. Beautifully told, & woven masterfully together, this is a story that you won't soon forget....

I was only familiar with Alice Walker's work "The Color Purple" before I read this novel. The two books are on the extreme opposites of the literary spectrum. "Temple of My Familiar" captured my senses from the first line. I don't want to give the story line away. Read the book and find the magical elements for yourself. It truly was an amazing book.
Linda Robinson
A dream of a book. A vision. In my Top Ten. One of the best titles ever.

pg. 357 Miss Lissie's dream memory as told to Suwelo:

"Just as my mother was queen because of her wisdom, experience, ability to soothe and to heal, because of her innate delicacy of thought and circumspection of action, and most of all because of her gentleness..."

In my eyes, Alice Walker is a genius in how she represents the many facets of life. She brings light to the ways of mankind and how things changed over time and how racism is still very much alive in today's society. Only we as human beings can change it as she writes in the stories of the characters who tell of their many lives and the trials and tribulations they each had to face to achieve the peace of life they were all trying to get to. True, it was sometimes hard to read, but it opened up ...more
This book has given me so many feelings I'm not even sure where to start.

It's considered the sequel to The Color Purple, and it's cool because it continues the stories of The Color Purple gang and their offspring, but it also sprouts off into many different directions, with dozens of characters, multiple continents, not to mention many, many, generations. Incredibly, every character, every continent, every generation, their feelings, and their themes are all perfectly and masterfully fleshed out
The images and ideas she creates still run through my imagination - like a riddle or a picture or an idea that I can just about capture, then it slips away. I think she captures the profound and complex ways we are all tied to each other, and to our history, in this beautifully written novel.
This sequel is very different from The Color Purple but worth a read. Alice Walker writes brilliantly about the complicated dyamics of heterosexual relationships, history, and feminism. I found her writing in this book to be both thought provoking and funny.
When I first finished this, I told my mom I never wanted to be more than 50 ft away from a copy of it, ever. She gave me ~8 paperback copies of it for my next birthday. It is one of my favorite gifts ever--I gave all but one of them away.
Nikita T. Mitchell
had to put down because I got really busy with work stuff during my internship. Think I may have to start over when I pick it back up because it's pretty detailed. Will pick up again one day...
Lauren Reid
I loved the way the stories were interwoven. every connection served a purpose. For me, who always wants the happy ending, I came away satisfied.
A.H. Haar
I don't remember the last time I loved the characters in a book the way I loved these. I am sorry to see it over.
I'm never a fan of nostalgia, of backwards-looking. Orpheus should have taught us that you never, ever turn around. But we insist on ignoring the truth, we insist on ruminating. And this book is so problematic for me in that way. History infuses all of the characters here, with the narrative structure of storytelling individual histories facilitating the intricate structure and backstory that Walker has created. But history is here to such a degree that it weighs everything down..."wasn't yester ...more
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In the book the Temple of My Familiar, the author Alice Walker defines the roles that men and woman have in society. She shows the aspect of power and what one will do to acquirer it. Throughout the book Walker portrays women as being a high supernatural being; a goddess.

By women knowing who they are and what they are made for, the producers of life, they are feared and worshiped by men. “…there was also woman, and in the process of life and change she produced a being somewhat unlike herself”
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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, an ...more
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The Color Purple Possessing the Secret of Joy In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose Meridian By The Light Of My Father's Smile

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“I'm mad about the waste that happens when people who love each other can't even bring themselves to talk.” 84 likes
“Helped are those who are content to be themselves; they will never lack mystery in their lives and the joys of self-discovery will be constant.” 82 likes
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