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In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  4,807 ratings  ·  90 reviews
In this, 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. Among the contents are essays about
other writers, accounts of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the
antinuclear movement of the 1980s, and a vivid memoir of a scarring
childhood injury and
Paperback, 360 pages
Published May 17th 2004 by Mariner Books (first published 1983)
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Sister Outsider by Audre LordeBlack Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill CollinsSister Citizen by Melissa V. Harris-PerryAin’t I a Woman by Bell HooksFeminist Theory by Bell Hooks
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Community Reviews

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Some of these feel a little dated now, but many of them are still so relevant, and that was actually kind of depressing. The ones from the '60s and '70s, talking about what were then still fairly new movements for racial and women's justice, in light of all the advances that the neo-cons and patriarchal and racist fundies made from Reagan one, and now with the ignorant racist teabaggers, ugh, just soooo depressing. The lesson I take from reading these now is that we can never, ever stop fighting ...more
A book of essays by Ms. Walker, who is one of my favorite authors. My favorite ones are the ones with reference to Zora Neale Hurston. This if full of ideas that may usually be linked to feminism, but Walker instead coins the term "womanism" as she feels black women were left out of the feminist movement dominated by white women.
I do not remember anything about this book except one lesson I learned from it: Envisoning your future is the key to overcoming your obstacles. This one factor has been key to the nature of my existence changing from surviving to thriving. Thank you Ms. Alice Walker.
Emily  O
If you read my recent review of Alice Walker's famous novel The Color Purple, then you'll know that I think she is an excellent novelist. Well, dear readers, the good news is that she is also an incredible essayist. I would encourage teachers everywhere to use her essays in their classrooms as an example of the perfect personal essay (especially Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self). If you know me or if you've read my blog, you know that I don't usually read non-fiction. It usually bores m ...more
I am starting to read more womanist literature and hope to get into some research eventually, so if anyone has any recommendations, I would gladly welcome them!
This book made me cry. Poetry and essays on civil-rights, feminism, motherhood. Alice Walker rules.
I need to re-read this to assign stars (how presumptuous that appears in the face of this sort of book). This collection helped shape the better part of my teenage self, though I wonder if I found validation for my habits (say, "Everyday Use") a bit too conveniently. Regardless of my possible shortcomings in using the works to identify myself, I still feel grateful to Walker for getting her writings into the public's hands.
Lisa Sellers
This was a huge book for me in my twenties - I love the short story about her looking for Zora Neale Hurston's grave and putting the tombstone on it herself - very inspiring and spoke to so much in my life - she lifts me up as a woman when I need a pick me up, cries with me when I am inconsolable and dance with joy as women do. Awesome book
Perhaps the best book of essays I've ever read, and one of the first. The title refers to one essay where the author visits the home of female white southern author Flannery O'Connor, now deceased, and discovers a familial connection. I still remember the peacocks on the property, though I've not read (and reread and reread) this book for years.
Iso Cambia
Mar 06, 2013 Iso Cambia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Iso by: Dr. Phillips
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
What is a womanist?

A black feminist/feminist of color; the opposite of girlish, frivolous; "usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered 'good' for one.... Responsible. In charge. Serious." (xi)

Womanist can also mean lesbian/bisexual women, a woman who "loves music. loves dance. loves the moon. loves the spirit. loves love and food and roundness. loves struggle. loves the folk. loves herself. regardless
Cara Byrne
“I fear that many people, including many women, do not know, in fact, what Woman is” (152).

Walker's collection of essays, starting with her first published article from 1967 on the Civil Rights movement to work she wrote in the 1980s about her process as a writer and as a reader of forgotten/overlooked African American's works (including Jean Toomer, Rebecca Jackson, and, of course, her "aunt" Zora Neale Hurston), is a heavy collection that offers a great critical insight into gender, sexuality
Stephanie Gustafson
I wouldn't have known about Zora Neale Hurston if I hadn't read this book, and I probably wouldn't have gone to graduate school and focused on women writers either. This book was key in my development as a feminist, scholar, and teacher.
The essays in this collection of prose are heavy with the delicateness of feminine power, revealing the strength of and for black women artists. I am not a black woman, so it is very hard to relate to many of the issues Alice discusses in which her mother, grandmother, sisters, friends, etc. went through. While I am aware of the struggles and hardships of the African-American race, I will never fully understand them. I appreciate Alice's ability to present them as immediate works to the fullest, ...more
Andrea Tyler
Some stories were really strong. Loved the ending. Walker clearly has a deep love for Hurston. I think it limited her interpretation of Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Wow! Really, wow! I had picked this out thinking it might have a few good things, but I was stunned as page after page was filled with insight, humor, heartbreak, and love. I don't believe this book was written with my demographic in mind, but I heartily recommend it. a wonderful work...I'm anxious to read more of Ms. Walker's writing.
Fantastic. Black women have a certain power to make their own lives beautiful.
A great book of enduring strength and finding one's self in this world.
One my list of all-time favorites. Read this book every year for over a decade.
This collection of essays made me wish that I knew Alice Walker. Her writing is not only inspiring, beautiful, and passionate, but also horizon-widening to those of us who know too little of the Civil Rights Movement, African-American writers, and the experience of being dark-skinned in a society that so highly prizes pale skin. I really respect the thoughtful way that she writes about the world and her personal experiences, tempering passion with the occasional acknowledgment that there may be ...more
Currently re-reading...
There are plenty of strong theories here, but I strongly prefer the bits where Walker shares personal rules and anecdotes: a call in the middle of the night; standing on Hurston's overgrown, snake-lurking grave; sharing lunch with her mother near Flannery O'Connor's home; attempting to document older women's lives in the rural south. The writing is funny and inviting within a serious context of critically analyzing race/gender/sex. On the negative side, there's some over-g
One of the books that informed my thinking in the 1990s
Winter Sophia Rose
You Will Find Yourself Re-Reading This Book To Nourish Your Spirit! I Do!^_~
to fall in love, read this
alice walker is the newest addition to my panoply of gurus. she is totally tapped in to some divine and earthly truths that the rest of us only skim the surface of. so reading her feels like a gift, a meditation, an education, a revelation. this is the second of her essay collections i've read and while some of the material is a little dated, i couldn't help but marvel that so many of these essays were written when she was younger than i am now. such a wise and inspiring woman.
I've taught sections of this work in my literature classes to indicate the types of artistry produced by women when their voices were most silenced culturally. I would also recommend Anonymous was a Woman, an actual collection of many pieces of art that fit in with Walker's idea of the mother's garden. In this theoretical text, Walker locates the creative genius of women, like her mother, in the somewhat mundane household tasks of gardening and needlepoint and caring for a family.
This book serves as a reminder of some of the better things to learn from radical feminism. I skipped some of the essays that were more centrally literary criticism, but watch carefully if you do that, because there are some good nuggets about Alice Walker's life buried in there. I especially liked her essay recalling her meeting with Coretta Scott King, as well as her essay addressing whether the civil rights movement is dead. Good stuff.
Rianne Smith
This book was not at all what I expected it to be but in reading it, I realize it is everything I expected it to be. Never has a book questioned who I am, what I value or how I am going to continue living my life. It's such an inspiring, informative book that I know I'll continue to come back to for enlightenment and motivation. This book coming from a quite imperfect woman to all the imperfect women out in the world.
Ashley important piece of work.
Jerome K
I kind of prefer Alice Walker's essays and poems to her fiction these days. Cause I think it's easier to accept Walker's political conviction in her essays and poems than in the novels where the characters are mostly her speaking. Walker has a generosity of spirit in these essays that's very moving. Some essays concerning her early life can be rather sad.
I love this woman. This book was a very interesting collection of her essays- second only to You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down, in my opinion. I especially liked the essays on Martin Luther King Jr. and Rebecca Cox Jackson (who is the SUCH a cool historical figure that you never hear about).
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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
More about Alice Walker...
The Color Purple The Temple of My Familiar Possessing the Secret of Joy Meridian By The Light Of My Father's Smile

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“Nobody is as powerful as we make them out to be.” 65 likes
“(a womanist)

3. Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.”
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