In Search of The Color Purple

The Story of an American Masterpiece



ISBN: 9781419735301 Category:

Salamishah Tillet


Mixing cultural criticism, literary history, biography, and memoir in an exploration of Alice Walker’s critically acclaimed and controversial novel, The Color Purple Alice Walker made history in 1982 when she became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, both for The Color Purple. Published in the Reagan Era amid a severe backlash to civil rights, the jazz age novel tells the story of an AfricanAmerican woman haunted by domestic and sexual violence. Prominent academic and activist Salamishah Tillet combines cultural criticism, history, and memoir to explore Walker’s epistolary novel, and shows how it has influenced and been informed by the zeitgeist of the time. The Color Purple received both praise and criticism upon publication, and the conversation it sparked around race and gender still continues today. It has been adapted for an Oscarnominated film and a hit Broadway musical. Through interviews with Walker, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, and others, as well as archival research, Tillet studies Walker’s life and the origins of her subjects, including violence, sexuality, gender, and politics. Reading The Color Purple at age 15 was a groundbreaking experience for Tillet. It continues to resonate with her—as a sexual violence survivor, as a teacher of the novel, and as an accomplished academic. Provocative and personal, In Search of the Color Purple is a bold work from an important public intellectual.

Additional information

Weight 360 g
Dimensions 14.6 x 21.7 cm
Publisher name ABRAMS
Publication date 1 April 2021
Number of pages 224
Format Hardback
Contributors Foreword by Gloria Steinem
Dimensions 14.6 x 21.7 cm
Weight 360 g


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Salamishah Tillet is a scholar, cultural critic, and activist. A professor at Rutgers University–Newark and previously a professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, she is a contributing critic-at-large for the New York Times. With her sister, she cofounded A Long Walk Home, a Chicago-based national nonprofit that uses art to empower young people to end violence against girls and women. She lives in New Jersey.