November 6, 2000
Pulitzer winner wows crowd at reading
By Stephanie Sonnenfeld firstname.lastname@example.org
Acclaimed writer Alice Walkers Monday, Oct. 30 visit, to Emory
was similar to many of her novels: a celebration of women, mixed with
inspiring prose and a noticeable amount of drama.
While the feminist spirit and words were expected, the drama came in
the form of an impromptu fire drill at the Dobbs Center, where Walker
spoke in Winship Ballroom. The 15-minute drill was a little chaotic but
didnt faze Walker or the crowd of about 200 who came to hear her
And perhaps it was the fire drill that truly helped set the tone for
Walkers visit, which was co-sponsored by the Office of Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender
Life and Charis Circle, a local literary group affiliated with Charis
Books in Little Five Points.
Somebody has said that when human beings understand the power of
lovefor each other and the rest of the worldand really act
on love, it will be a time when we discover fire for the second time,
said Walker, author of the 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color
The sentiment was a fitting introduction to Walkers reading from
her latest work, The Way Forward Is With a Broken Heart. The semi-autobiographical
book comprises 13 stories and begins with Walkers reflections on
her marriage to a Jewish civil rights lawyer in the South during the early
years of the civil rights movement.
Other stories in the book are fiction with a traceable link to Walkers
life, some of which was spent in Atlanta when she attended Spelman College
Walker told the crowd The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart is
the product of a 30-year writing cycle that started after her divorce
in the 1970s. She has said the divorce challenged everything shed
ever thought about human relationships. This book, she told the crowd
at the DUC, is about the good and bad in life and relationships.
Its a hard thing to learn about lifethat its
just not all good, and its not all about the good things. Its
equally about those times when you want to slit your wrists. [Life] is
just the most crazy thing, she said. If you ever can reach
the point where you can see that [life] is a balance and can be a balancewhere
your highs can be just as wonderful as your lowsyou're learning.
Relationships are excellent at that.
Walker read a story from her book summing up this sentiment. Charms
is about a couple who have a lot of things to work on and want to.
Following the 20-minute reading she read the book's epilogue, describing
a wife who wonders how her ex-husband feels about the death of John Kennedy
She ended her visit by sharing a philosophical piece about how women
should be allowed to solve the world's problems. It was a thought she
received just like everyone else: via forwarded e-mail.
The crowd thanked the writer with a standing ovation, a sign of a successful
visit for the Eatonton, Ga., native who now lives in Berkeley, Calif.
Walker then signed copies of her works, which include By the Light
of My Father's Smile, Possessing the Secret of Joy, The Same River Twice,
In Love and Trouble and The Temple of My Familiar.
Walkers visit also celebrated the 26th birthday of Charis Books,
the Souths oldest feminist bookstore. All proceeds from the reading
went to Charis Circle the group that helps the store stage literary events
and run local programs. The Office of LGBT Life provided the use of Winship
Ballroom, where local singer Doria Roberts performed prior to Walkers
All proceeds from the event went directly to support Charis Circles programs, which include writing mentoring groups for local women and girls.