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Description - Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker

When Alice Walker finished writing The Color Purple she realised that she needed to tell the story of Tashi, a minor character, who had "left Africa but had taken her wound with her to America". This is Tashi's story, told in her words and the voices of the people who loved her. This extraordinarily courageous and compelling novel explores the tragic consequences of Tashi's decision to go through the female initiation ceremony.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099224112
ISBN-10: 0099224119
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 17mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 15-Jul-1993
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker

US Kirkus Review » Here and there tantalizing remnants of the writing that made The Color Purple such a critical success, but for the most part Walker's latest is held hostage to an agenda - the eradication of female circumcision in Africa and the Middle East - a cause to which she will be contributing a portion of the royalties. A range of voices, including husband Adam, son Benny, and the character Tashi herself, tell the story of the Olinka girl who made a brief appearance in The Color Purple. Married to Adam, the young African-American missionary who took her back to the US, Tashi has suffered intermittent periods of madness since she was brutally circumcised as an adolescent in a remote guerrilla camp in Africa. It's a madness that has required hospitalization and treatment by a range of analysts, including the great Jung, who puts in a cameo appearance here. Though her older sister had bled to death from the effects of the operation, Tashi chose to have it done because she felt it would make her "...completely woman. Completely Africa. Completely Olinka." The operation also was responsible for a difficult delivery in which her son Benny was brain-damaged. Helped by therapy, her grief turns to anger: she returns to Africa and murders the old woman who performed the operation. Sentenced to death, Tashi, who feels neither guilt nor fear of death, is finally at peace because an anthropologist tells her about the mythic causes of the practice: the early African woman, "the mother of womankind," was "notoriously free" of both sexual guilt and circumcision; invading tribes and Arabs were responsible for its imposition. Dying, Tashi finally possesses the "secret of joy": the resistance to what is evil. A pastiche of New Age mysticism, dubious history, and feminist ideology tied to a storyline that points a moral, heavily underlined, rather than one that grows out of a tale. Female circumcision is a terrible travesty, but neither it nor Walker's talent is well served by this overwrought novel. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Alice Walker

Alice Walker is the author of seven novels, including Pullitzer Prize winnner The Color Purple, The Third Life of Grange Copeland and Now is the Time to Open Your Heart; three collections of short stories, In Love & Trouble, You Can't Keep A Good Woman Down and The Way Forward is with a Broken Heart; as well as eight volumes of poetry. Alice Walker lives in Northern California.

Books By Alice Walker

Color Purple by Alice Walker
Paperback, August 2017
Mindful Money by Alice Walker
Paperback, February 2017
General's Son by Alice Walker
Paperback / softback, April 2016
Color Purple (Musical Tie-In) by Alice Walker
Paperback / softback, November 2015