By The Light of My Father's Smile: Summary and book reviews of By The Light of My Father's Smile by Alice Walker, plus links to an excerpt from By The Light of My Father's Smile and a biography of Alice Walker.
By The Light of My Father's Smile
by Alice Walker
Hardcover: Oct 1998,
Paperback: Aug 1999,
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."
The San Francisco Chronicle
A jubilant novel . . . [An] evocative family tale of love, passion, and forgiveness.
The Washington Post
[A] stunning, original, and important book by one of the best American writers of today.
Walker is still a wonderful storyteller, offering a prose of great lucidity, but many of the characters here seem unbelievably serene and rather one-dimensional, with the discursive tale offering too little action, and too many lectures. An uncomfortable mix of visionary fable and screed.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
I think that this book was the best book I have ever read. I would like to read more like it
Rated of 5
I think that this book is an excellent book except for the fact that it is available to middle school children, such as my son. But, other than that I like the fact that it gives you a feel of how those people were really feeling and why... Read More
Rated of 5
by Shirley A. Mason
Excellent Book! I enjoyed reading it. I love all of Alice Walker's books. Job well done!!
Rated of 5
by Ashley Jones
I think By the Light of my Father's Smile was a great book. When I read it I felt as if I was watching along with the angels in the story. HAving others watching and telling what they saw was different. The narrator is usually the person having... Read More
Rated of 5
An amazing novel that deals with spirituality. The characters deal with the consequences of past choices and their knowledge of religion and what lies beyond death is challenged. Choices about sexuality are explored as the characters continue their... Read More
'Though I've read countless novels, I had never read one like this ... told in a chorus of completely unexpected voices, as befits the first novel from a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter' - Washington Post.
This audacious exploration into the nature of love is rich in characters, striking scenes and a profound understanding of how alive the past can be.
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