Antonomasia's Reviews > The Color Purple

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
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Dec 24, 13

bookshelves: lgbtq, 1993-97, eighties, pulitzer, 2013, feminism, modern-american-fiction, 1001-books
Read from November 25 to 26, 2013

This isn’t really for a reader who wants artistry and an elegant or inventive writing style, and who prefers historical fiction to prioritise accuracy or humour over ideological points made with a sledgehammer. Or who, in the past, hearing comments that black literature concentrated too much on old-time slavery and oppression, to the extent it seemed to define blackness by it, thought “that makes sense, maybe it’s a good thing not to have finished The Color Purple”. (Opinion of that ilk I heard much more before Zadie Smith and various other contemporary authors became fixtures of the literary scene, back when The Color Purple still seemed to be pushed as one of the books to read. I get the impression it’s less popular in Britain now, whilst it’s remained a must-read in the US. Or maybe that’s just the people I know and what I see online.)

Celie experienced prolonged abuse and is shown with an unrealistic lack of long-term emotional trauma. Given how seriously many take this book, the character creates unfair expectations of people who've had severe, and less severe, experiences.

Still, the novel evidently means a lot to some folks, and it was interesting this time round to finish what was an essential feminist read of the 80s and 90s. In its favour: it kept me turning the pages; it was a change to see dramatic events widely spaced in time - rare in fiction ; I kind of liked Shug although she was an absurd fairytale character; and I have to give the book a few points for pissing off prudes and fundamentalists. Even if the ending was premium-grade Hollywood schmaltz.
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