The Color Purple

By Alice Walker,

Book cover of The Color Purple

Book description

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Alice Walker's iconic modern classic is now a Penguin Book.

A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie…

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Why read it?

10 authors picked The Color Purple as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Somehow, I made it to the age of 43 before reading The Color Purple for the first time. I was surprised that it had not been required reading in any of my college-level English/Lit courses. I specifically sought The Color Purple out because it has a history of being banned at schools across the US, and decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. I found that The Color Purple is an important piece of American literature that boldly discusses not only inequities and abuse, but also resilience. The Color Purple will make you uncomfortable, and…

I read this Pulitzer Prize-winning book after watching the Academy Award-winning film and imagined this would be the single exception where a book could not possibly be more impactful than the 1985 film. I could not have been more wrong. Published in 1982 by American author Alice Walker, the novel also won the National Book award for fiction, yet I still was not prepared for the greatness of what I was about to read. The Color Purple is a gut-wrenching, and unflinching portrayal of the bigotry and abuse that black women suffered, especially in the south. The story follows Celie…

In the mid-1980s, as a more soulful voice was emerging in my writing, a friend gave me her copy of The Color Purple. Walker’s novel is about relationships and the struggles and triumphs of black women who loved deeply and continued to see beauty in their world even as they survived terrible abuses. I was drawn to Walker’s writing, the rhythm of Celie’s simple candid voice, and the unique way this novel delivered a powerful heartfelt story. Reading The Color Purple encouraged me to trust in my creative writing style. As my voice, my intuition, and my connection to…

From Anna's list on our human struggles and triumphs.

Celie’s letters to God in The Color Purple, and those to her sister Nettie, tell her story of abuse and exploitation, as well as her capacity for love and her gritty determination. The Color Purple is always cited as an important book, which of course it is, but it’s also an accessible, entertaining, and ultimately inspiring read. 

From Kerry's list on letters that change someone’s life.

The Color Purple, another of my all-time favorite books, is an unusual coming-of-age story in that it tells the life of one remarkable young person’s journey into maturity and self-possession far beyond her youth. Surviving the injustices and vicious circumstances of her young life as an impoverished Black girl in the rural south in the early 20th century, Celie discovers herself through forbidden love and the loves that others tried to steal from her.  

Written as a series of undated letters, this novel spans decades and describes the love, pain, suffering, and faith of both Celie (who writes her letters to God) and her sister Nettie. It’s a profoundly felt story about endurance, forgiveness, and the re-shaping and repair of a broken family, one that is terribly distorted by historical racism, sexism, and social injustice. It’s powerful, sad, and ultimately uplifting. 

Wow, just wow. In this rollercoaster of a novel, the reader is swept into the fully realised world of 1930s Deep South USA. The narrative does not shy away from the realities of abuse and racism, and at times is a grim read. However, the loving relationship of Celie and Shug is central to the story and shines through as a guiding light. Redemption is hard-won through the transformative power of love and self-acceptance. I particularly recommend the novel to folk who’ve only seen the movie. The book does so much more.

From Rosie's list on positive LGBTQ+ characters.

If you haven’t yet read this modern classic, consider it time. Incest is not technically the focus but it threads throughout the narrative as one of many violent acts impacting the lives of the characters as they struggle to survive and attain some degree of identity and peace. As with any trauma, the abuse’s repercussions are manifested in expected and unexpected ways. You’ll draw a deep breath and sigh in relief when the main character Celie propels herself beyond her past to attain a new level of freedom and happiness.

Set in the rural south (1910-1940), The Color Purple follows the coming of age of Celie, a girl born into circumstances she is unable to escape. Much like The Catcher in the Rye, it’s hard to find something new that hasn’t already been said about this Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece. It is an intimate tale that holds within it the full scope of the human condition. Celie reveals the true north of our humanity, our innate goodness, in the face of systemic abuse. More than that, Celie finds the power to define herself against paralyzing odds. A masterful book that…

Another epic story of love and loss. You’d have to be carved out of granite not to ugly-cry over this book. Celie and Nettie are sisters, separated as children, but their love transcends decades. Celie lives through the horror of an abusive father, husband, stepchildren and is constantly told she’s worthless. But she believes differently, because Nettie loved her once. Probably the strongest character in literature, Celie gets her reward for years of kindness and grit in the most magnificent ugly-cry scene ever.   

From Kristan's list on for a cleansing sob fest.

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