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In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose
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In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  6,093 Ratings  ·  125 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 ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 17th 2004 by Mariner Books (first published 1983)
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Alice Walker's life and writing legacy intrigues me. I stayed with this book longer than I normally would have, since some parts of me couldn't let it go. Walker always seems to speak to my experience, to my trajectory, and her words both console and exhort. Yet she's speaking to a larger audience, to America, to the world. For her career starts from Georgia to Mississippi, to California and Cuba, to sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Like Baldwin and Hughes, she was well-traveled, so when she spoke ...more
Aug 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meen by: "Looking for Zora" was in Best American Essays of the 20th C.
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
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
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
Lisa Sellers
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, mamalove, essays
This book made me cry. Poetry and essays on civil-rights, feminism, motherhood. Alice Walker rules.
Jul 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
To future readers of this collection of essays -- first read Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. I was very happy that I'd read Hurston's book first because so much of Walker's discourse is about Hurston and her book. We read this book for book club and my basic response was the realization that I learned so much from it -- I almost felt as if I should be taking notes -- and for me, that is an enjoyable feeling. So much info about black writers, the Civil Rights movement, and the ...more
Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
E. V.  Gross
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I felt like this was super necessary reading for me as a) a black woman, b) a writer, c) a woman-loving-woman & (burgeoning) womanist, and d) a woman actively seeking to defy categorization while also demanding adequate representation, visibility, and respect in her identity. So powerful. Walker's prose continues to be an inspiration to me and speak to me long after I've left it.
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jorie W
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, Pt. 1
This month hasn’t really been a poetry month; I might even dare to say that this year hasn’t been a poetry year. Even though I love the art of poetry, I have more recently found it difficult to connect, especially when I’m not in the mood (by which I mean, I find it hard to write and read poetry when it feels like more important things are going on in the world and in myself. It distresses me that when I’m feeling too deeply, I seem to lose
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
i took my time with these essays and ended up with pages and pages of notes, i'm not even sure where to start. sometimes you read something, and it's either so true or so specific to your interests or some combination of those things that you can't believe it exists and you get to read it-- this was that kind of book for me. i felt so honored to hear about her process in writing "the color purple", to hear her retell "everything that rises must converge" to her mother, and give her the room to w ...more
Cara Byrne
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: phd-stuff
Walker is a lifelong activist of human rights and founder of the concept of womanism. Walker is an internationally celebrated author with seven novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books and volumes of essays and poetry.

“I come out of a tradition where those things are valued; where you talk about a woman with big legs and big hips and black skin. I come out of a black community where it was all right to have hips and to be heavy. You didn’t feel that people didn’t like yo
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So much mind blowing, beautifully written prose, written and seeded all across various essays, speeches, and recollections. Searching for the meaning of being a black writer during a tumultuous time in the US history. Coming to terms with being a black feminist writer, Recovering the arts and literature by blacks, who prolifically wrote and portrayed authentic views and represented voices of the south. Reclaiming culture and root of the author back in the south where she grew up.

Spanning coast t
Jan 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Graham Oliver
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, essays
Really compelling to see Alice Walker's genius brought to bear on so many different topics: homosexuality, race, feminism, Israel, Cuba, literary criticism, religion, and more.

Definitely a good book and one you should read, but a few minor notes. I wish there had been heavier editing to cut some of the repetition between pieces (or, like a lot of collections, it should be read one piece at a time with breaks between them to forget the less important parts). Some of the first half of the collecti
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An essay collection ranging from personal recollections to political one's, from feminism and motherhood to the Civil Rights Movement, Cuba, and Israel.
Alice Walker is an excellent essayist. Her essays are melodious, their topics are -even 30 or 40 years later- still relevant. I learnt a lot about life, feminism, African American culture and literature. Her essay In Search Of Our mother's Gardens should be teached in schools and universities alongside Virginia Woolf. I highly recommend this coll
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-deborah
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
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Kathy D
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The essay from which this book is titled has always clutched at my soul. I wanted to know more about Walker's life, how she arrived at the place she as at now and what she foresees for the human race. The book did not disappoint. I love her work but I think I might find myself a stammering, blithering mess if I was ever allowed to have a discussion with her. She is far and away one of the most intellectually gifted writers I've read.
Rianne Smith
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: womensstudies
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.
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
The book "In search of our mothers' gardens" looks at many topics such as nuclear weapons, identity (womanhood, sexuality, and etc.), and the civil rights movement. This book gives insight into the relationship between men and women who touched her life .

By reading this book, I learned about the lives, challenges and experiences of African American Woman.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm about a third of the way through reading this splendid collection of essays, and I'm struck by the power of Walker's writing. I was literally crying (quietly, blinking back tears) at work today thinking about what I'd read while on my lunch break.

As I read, I am continually astounded and ashamed of how little progress we here in America seem to have made in regard to creating equality among races. I come from a white, middle class family, have always lived in largely white, middle to upper
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book resonated with me on a spiritual level. Her collection essays is pure gold. Walker touches on the Civil Right's movement, Being a mother while honing your craft and giving your best to both, not sacrificing for one. Her quest to honor Zora Neal Hurston left me with all the feels. Searching,Seeing and Understanding the art in black womanhood across generational lines, whew!! Her experience as a woman, a black American, as a southerner, as a woman who made a tough choice, all poignant. T ...more
Vivek Tewary
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading The color purple, I knew I had to read more of Alice Walker's writings. This prose collection was the prefect choice for me. I love how effortless her writing appears, although I'm sure that it can not be an easy task. I see her writing as beyond descriptions of her social activism, but as a meditation, a prayer and a miracle. When I read the color purple, I was amazed how she could say very little and yet convey an entire world. In the present book, she mentions how she admires th ...more
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Alice Walker, 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, and Possessi ...more
More about Alice Walker...
“Nobody is as powerful as we make them out to be.” 83 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.”
More quotes…