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Womanism

Dinah Birch, 21 December 1989

The Temple of my Familiar 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 405 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5041 6
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The Fog Line 
by Carol Birch.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0453 9
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Home Life Four 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 169 pp., £9.95, November 1989, 0 7156 2297 8
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TheFly in the Ointment 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £10.95, October 1989, 9780715622964
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Words of Love 
by Philip Norman.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 241 12586 3
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... American black people describe their wildest girls as ‘womanish’. Alice Walker recalls that traditional usage in defining her own work: she is interested in ‘womanist’ rather than ‘feminist’ writing. ‘Womanist’ texts proclaim a double rebellion, fusing the long-suppressed anger of women with that of blacks ...

Good Girls and Bad Girls

Anita Brookner, 2 June 1983

Porky 
by Deborah Moggach.
Cape, 236 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 224 02948 7
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The Banquet 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Allen Lane, 191 pp., £6.95, May 1983, 0 7139 1574 9
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Binstead’s Safari 
by Rachel Ingalls.
Faber, 221 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 9780571130160
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In Good Faith 
by Edith Reveley.
Hodder, 267 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 340 32012 5
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Cousins 
by Monica Furlong.
Weidenfeld, 172 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 297 78231 2
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The Moons of Jupiter 
by Alice Munro.
Allen Lane, 233 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 7139 1549 8
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On the Stroll 
by Alix Kates Shulman.
Virago, 301 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 86068 364 8
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The Color Purple 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 244 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 0 7043 3905 6
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Mistral’s Daughter 
by Judith Krantz.
Sidgwick, 531 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 283 98987 4
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... without, in fact, displaying the rather tired characteristics of womanliness, is provided by Alice Munro in The Moons of Jupiter. In this excellent collection of stories, Alice Munro is treading on the heels of her compatriot, Margaret Atwood. Events are less powerful in Munro’s stories; most have to do with ...

Self-Disclosing Days

Jenny Turner, 23 April 1992

Holograms of Fear 
by Slavenka Drakulic, translated by Ellen Elias-Barsaic and Slavenka Drakulic.
Hutchinson, 184 pp., £13.99, January 1992, 0 09 174994 8
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Revolution From Within 
by Gloria Steinem.
Bloomsbury, 377 pp., £14.99, January 1992, 0 7475 1006 7
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How we survived Communism and even laughed 
by Slavenka Drakulic.
Hutchinson, 193 pp., £15.99, January 1992, 0 09 174925 5
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... this presumably is why North American feminist figureheads of the stature of Barbara Ehrenreich, Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan have given it their impeccably feminist imprimatur. As North American feminist figureheads of great stature, Barbara Ehrenreich, Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem and Robin ...

Two Poems

Douglas Oliver, 24 August 1995

... Islam is too profound. The following poem could never be read in illiterate deserts. Like Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar working in West Africa, you could make a courageous film on the subject of infibulation. Failing that, a poem might yet become a sort of film shot from a distance, an attempt to project onto the air, via a beam of good ...

My Friend Sam

Jane Miller, 16 August 1990

The rock cried out 
by Ellen Douglas.
Virago, 303 pp., £5.99, June 1990, 1 85381 140 8
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Can’t quit you, baby 
by Ellen Douglas.
Virago, 256 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 1 85381 149 1
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... celebrated in Southern churches. There must be ways in which writers like Ralph Ellison and Alice Walker are bound to acknowledge their indebtedness to white Southern writing, as to its European sources. If The Color Purple may be read as a novel about the acquiring of literacy, becoming a reader and a writer, and the meaning of this for members of ...

Dumped

Zoë Heller: Girl Talk, 19 February 1998

Animal Husbandry 
by Laura Zigman.
Hutchinson, 304 pp., £10, January 1998, 0 09 180219 9
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Bridget Jones’ Diary 
by Helen Fielding.
Picador, 310 pp., £5.99, June 1997, 0 330 33277 5
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Does My Bum Look Big in This? 
by Arabella Weir.
Hodder, 246 pp., £5.99, March 1998, 9780340689486
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... even dangerous – in the Seventies, it eventually became hackneyed and over-familiar. Enough Alice Walker, already! The success of the FFPN, with its candid admissions of female silliness and vanity, lay partly in its subversion of the expectations created by all those Virago paperbacks. The FFPN could acknowledge ignoble parts of female experience ...

In the Box

Dale Peck, 6 February 1997

How Stella Got Her Groove Back 
by Terry McMillan.
Viking, 368 pp., £16, September 1996, 0 670 86990 2
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Push 
by Sapphire.
Secker, 142 pp., £7.99, September 1996, 0 436 20291 3
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The Autobiography of My Mother 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Vintage, 228 pp., £8.99, September 1996, 0 09 973841 4
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... American publishing. This ‘middle period’ was, I think, capped in 1982 by the publication of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prizewinning The Color Purple. In that novel, Celie, the protagonist teaches herself to read and write, and what she writes down is her own story; in doing so, she symbolically reenacts what a generation of black women readers and ...

Stories of Black and White

Michael Wood, 4 October 1984

In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 138 pp., £7.50, September 1984, 0 7043 2852 6
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Nights at the Circus 
by Angela Carter.
Chatto, 295 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 7011 3932 3
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Democracy 
by Joan Didion.
Chatto, 234 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 7011 2890 9
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... seeks to keep his political flag flying. The question of language doesn’t surface immediately in Alice Walker’s collection of stories, published in America in 1973, now appearing in England for the first time. But it does lie in wait for such writing, ready to pounce like maturity or disenchantment. The stories neatly evoke a familiar vision of the ...

Pen Men

Elaine Showalter, 20 March 1986

Men and Feminism in Modern Literature 
by Declan Kiberd.
Macmillan, 250 pp., £13.95, September 1985, 0 333 38353 2
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Women Writing about Men 
by Jane Miller.
Virago, 256 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 86068 473 3
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Phallic Critiques: Masculinity and 20th-century Literature 
by Peter Schwenger.
Routledge, 172 pp., £29.50, September 1985, 0 7102 0164 8
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... Rebecca West, Alexandra Kollontai, Christina Stead, Jean Rhys, Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, Miller’s deliberately unsystematic readings have an impressive cumulative power. By the end of the book, as she discusses the work of black and working-class writers, women who have been so excluded from the culture’s concept of the heroine ...

Super-Striking

Jenny Turner, 24 September 1992

High Cotton 
by Darryl Pinckney.
Faber, 295 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 571 16491 9
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... published in New York’s Newsday, Pinckney has been scathing about ‘blackwomanist’ heroine Alice Walker, calling her much-loved depictions of black folks discovering themselves through social engagement ‘terrible ... mindless reformulations of clichés’. Provocative of him. However, it is one thing to criticise what one sees as poor art or bad ...

Static

Lorna Scott Fox, 22 September 1994

The Still Moment 
by Paul Binding.
Virago, 290 pp., £20, May 1994, 1 85381 441 5
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... have been a far more active enthusiast for black rights’ than Eisenhower. Later, asked by Alice Walker whether she had ‘really known’ any black women, honest Eudora came up with two, a schoolteacher and a maid. Binding’s gloss: ‘She does not indulge in generalised rhetoric, and by implication, makes us realise anew just how difficult the ...

You and Non-You

Blake Morrison: ‘This Mournable Body’, 7 May 2020

This Mournable Body 
by Tsitsi Dangarembga.
Faber, 384 pp., £14.99, January, 978 0 571 35551 8
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... deserves to be better known. Nervous Conditions has had many admirers, including Chinua Achebe, Alice Walker and Doris Lessing, who called it ‘the novel we have all been waiting for’. The first sentence is irresistible: ‘I was not sorry when my brother died.’ But Dangarembga spent four years trying to find a publisher for it and succeeded only ...

Purple Days

Mark Ford, 12 May 1994

The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... the work of his eclectically chosen band of artists – who range from Bruce Springsteen to Alice Walker, George Lucas to Louise Glück – and the specific linguistic, narrative, or political problems posed by Vietnam. For such as Bruce Springsteen the most immediate issue was the draft. In the event he failed his physical on account of injuries ...

Leave off saying I want you to be savages

Sandra Gilbert: D.H. Lawrence, 19 March 1998

D.H. Lawrence: Dying Game 1922-30 
by David Ellis.
Cambridge, 814 pp., £25, January 1998, 0 521 25421 3
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... readers as a chestnut, maybe even an obstacle on the road to Virginia Woolf, Thomas Pynchon and Alice Walker, while the later novels just look ‘weird’. On the one hand, the author of Women in Love is too damn serious, too damn end-of-the-world to be any fun in a world of MTV; on the other hand, the creator of The Woman who Rode Away and the kitschy ...

How do you spell Shakespeare?

Frank Kermode, 21 May 1987

William Shakespeare. The Complete Works: Original-Spelling Edition 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1456 pp., £75, February 1987, 9780198129196
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William Shakespeare: The Complete Works 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1432 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 19 812926 2
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... mooted long ago by R.B. McKerrow, but he produced only the Prolegomena (1939) before he died, and Alice Walker, who took over the project, did not issue a single play. With this discouraging history behind him, Professor Wells seems not to have been thinking of old spelling when he mounted the present assault on the Shakespearian summit. ‘The newly ...

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