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The Temple of My Familiar


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Alice Walker's first novel after the hugely successful The Color Purple, which sold over a million copies in the UK alone 'The richness of The Temple of my Familiar is amazing, overwhelming. A hundred themes and subjects spin through it, dozens of characters...they're like Dostoyevsky's characters, relentlessly raising the great moral questions and pushing one another toward self-knowledge, honesty, engagement' Ursula LeGuin 'The Temple of My Familiar is like a long dream. It has the magic, the freedom, the beauty and the horror of dreams' Isabel Allende We are very pleased to have acquired the Alice Walker backlist and are giving the entire list a stunning new up-to-date look to bring these classic books to a new generation of readers

About the Author

Alice Walker won the Pulitzer prize and the American Book Award for The Color Purple. She is the author of many bestselling novels, essays and collections of poetry including Meridian, By the Light of My Father's Smile and The Third Life of Grange Copeland.


Nothing in Walker's extraordinary new novel is fixed. Time and place range from precolonial Africa to post-slavery North Carolina to modern-day San Francisco; and the characters themselves change and evolve as their stories are told, their myriad histories revealed. Most often present are Miss Lissie, an old woman with a fascinating host of former lives; her companion, the gentle Mr. Hal; Arveyda, a soul-searching musician; his wife Carlotta, who was born in the South American jungle; Fanny, a young woman who has a tendency to fall in love with spirits; and her husband Suwelo, who tries hard but simply does not understand her. Out of the telling of their stories emerges a glorious and iridescent fabric, a strand connecting all their lives and former lives and seeming to pull all of existence into its folds. Walker's characters are magnetic, even with their all-to-human flaws and stumblings; they seem to contain the world, and to do it justice. Highly recommended.-- Jessica Grim, NYPL

''Walker's fictional creations are musicians, storytellers, artists and mothers: all of them embrace life with the characteristic optimism of this author, against a background of colour: love, for instance, blossoms on an "olive-green sailboat with its black-and-yellow sails". - HERALD (9.10.04)

Part love story, part fable, part feminist manifesto, part political statement, Walker's new novel follows a cast of interrelated characters, most of them black, 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. As each tells of his or her life (and sometimes, previous lives in various reincarnations), Walker relates the damage inflicted on blacks by the oppression of slavery in Africa and in the South, and less visibly but just as invidiously, by the racial prejudice existing today. Because her characters are intrinsically interesting, (one is the granddaughter of Celie from The Color Purple ) this device works most of the time. But when Walker hypothesizes that Western civilization stole and subverted the ancient African deities, metamorphosing their worship of the Mother Goddess into a patriarchal line, the narrative takes on the strident tones of a polemic. Black women have suffered most, is Walker's message, since they were subjugated both by whites and by men. Unfortunately, didacticism mars the narrative; theorizing and pontificating take the place of action. Thus, though it has its own strengths, the book never achieves the narrative power of The Color Purple . 175,000 copy first printing; major ad/promo; BOMC featured alternate; paperback sale to Pocket Books, author tour. (May)

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