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Alice Walker won both the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple, which was brought to the attention of mainstream America through the film adaptation by Steven Spielberg. Alice Walker is a prolific best-selling author of novels, short story collections, collections of essays and poetry, and children's books, and her works have been translated into more than two-dozen languages. Alice Walker has become one of the best-known, most highly respected writers in the United States, and is the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Alice Walker was the eighth child of Georgia sharecroppers. After a childhood accident blinded her in one eye, she went on to become valedictorian of her local school, and attend Spelman College and Sarah Lawrence College on scholarships. During her junior year, Alice Walker traveled to Africa as an exchange student. She received her bachelor of arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 1965.
At a commencement speech at Sarah Lawrence years later, she spoke out against the silence of that institution's curriculum when it came to African-American culture and history. Active in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in the South, she used her own and others' experiences as material for her searing examination of politics and black-white relations in her novel, Meridian.
Alice Walker's novels have focused on a matrix that includes sexual and racial realities within black communities, as well as the unavoidable connections between family and society. For exposing the former, she has been criticized by some; for exploring the latter, she has been awarded numerous prizes while winning the hearts and minds of countless readers. Many of her novels depict women in other periods of history. Just as with non-fiction women's history writing, such portrayals give a sense of the differences and similarities of women's condition today and in that of other times.
Among her numerous awards and honors are the Lillian Smith Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts & Letters, a nomination for the National Book Award, a Radcliff Institute Fellowship, a Merrill Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Front Page Award for Best Magazine Criticism from the Newswoman's Club of New York. Alice Walker also has received the Townsend Prize and a Lyndhurst Prize.
Alice Walker became an activist in the 1960s and she still is an involved activist today. She has spoken for the women's movement, the anti-apartheid movement, for the anti-nuclear movement, and about violence against women. Alice Walker continues not only to write, but also to be active in environmental, feminist and women's causes, and issues of economic justice.
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