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By the Light of My Father's Smile

A Novel

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Paperback published by Ballantine Books (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
By the Light of My Father's Smile is Alice Walker's first novel in six years--a stunning, original, and important book by "one of the best American writers of today" (The Washington Post).

A family from the United States goes to the remote Sierras in Mexico--the writer-to-be, Susannah; her sister, Magdalena; her father and mother.  And there, amid an endangered band of mixed-race Blacks and Indians called the Mundo, they begin an encounter that will change them more than they could ever dream.  Moving back and forth in time, and among unforgettable characters and their stories, Walker crosses conventional borders of all kinds as she explores in this magical novel the ways in which a woman's denied sexuality leads to the loss of the much prized and necessary original self; and how she regains that self, even as her family's past of lies and love is transformed.

By the Light of My Father's Smile presents, as Alice Walker puts it, "a celebration of sexuality, its absolute usefulness in the accessing of one's mature spirituality, and the father's role in assuring joy or sorrow in this arena for his female children."  It explores the richness and coherence of alternative culture, experience of sexuality as a celebration of life, of trust in Nature and the Spirit, even as it affirms the belief, as Walker says, "that it is the triumphant heart, not the conquered heart, that forgives.  And that love is both timeless and beyond time."


From the Hardcover edition.
Show less
By the Light of My Father's Smile is Alice Walker's first novel in six years--a stunning, original, and important book by "one of the best American writers of today" (The Washington Post).

A family from the United States goes to the remote Sierras in Mexico--the writer-to-be, Susannah; her sister, Magdalena; her father and mother.  And there, amid an endangered band of mixed-race Blacks and Indians called the Mundo, they begin an encounter that will change them more than they could ever dream.  Moving back and forth in time, and among unforgettable characters and their stories, Walker crosses conventional borders of all kinds as she explores in this magical novel the ways in which a woman's denied sexuality leads to the loss of the much prized and necessary original self; and how she regains that self, even as her family's past of lies and love is transformed.

By the Light of My Father's Smile presents, as Alice Walker puts it, "a celebration of sexuality, its absolute usefulness in the accessing of one's mature spirituality, and the father's role in assuring joy or sorrow in this arena for his female children."  It explores the richness and coherence of alternative culture, experience of sexuality as a celebration of life, of trust in Nature and the Spirit, even as it affirms the belief, as Walker says, "that it is the triumphant heart, not the conquered heart, that forgives.  And that love is both timeless and beyond time."


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
Paperback (256 pages)
Published: August 31, 1999
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 9780345426062
Other books byAlice Walker
  • The Color Purple (Musical Tie-in)

    The Color Purple (Musical Tie-in)
    Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to "Mister," a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister's letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

    Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart

    Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart
    A Novel
    The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and The Temple of My Familiar now gives us a beautiful new novel that is at once a deeply moving personal story and a powerful spiritual journey. In Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart, Alice Walker has created a work that ranks among her ?nest achievements: the story of a woman’s spiritual adventure that becomes a passage through time, a quest for self, and a collision with love. Kate has always been a wanderer. A well-published author, married many times, she has lived a life rich with explorations of the natural world and the human soul. Now, at fifty-seven, she leaves her lover, Yolo, to embark on a new excursion, one that begins on the Colorado River, proceeds through the past, and flows, inexorably, into the future. As Yolo begins his own parallel voyage, Kate encounters celibates and lovers, shamans and snakes, memories of family disaster and marital discord, and emerges at a place where nothing remains but love. Told with the accessible style and deep feeling that are its author’s hallmarks, Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart is Alice Walker’s most surprising achievement. From the Hardcover edition.

    The Temple of My Familiar

    The Temple of My Familiar
    First published in 1990, The Temple of My Familiar, Alice Walker’s follow-up novel to her iconic The Color Purple, spent more than four months on the New York Times Bestseller list and was hailed by critics as a “major achievement” (Chicago Tribune). Described by the author as “a romance of the last 500,000 years,” The Temple of My Familiar follows a cast of interrelated characters, most of African descent, and each representing a different ethnic strain—ranging from diverse African tribes to the mixed bloods of Latin America—that contribute to the black experience in America.

    Meridian

    Meridian
    Meridian Hill is a young woman at an Atlanta college attempting to find her place in the revolution for racial and social equality. She discovers the limits beyond which she will not go for the cause, but despite her decision not to follow the path of some of her peers, she makes significant sacrifices in order to further her beliefs. Working in a campaign to register African American voters, Meridian cares broadly and deeply for the people she visits, and, while her coworkers quit and move to comfortable homes, she continues to work in the deep South despite a paralyzing illness. Meridian's nonviolent methods, though seemingly less radical than the methods of others, prove to be an effective means of furthering her beliefs.

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