The Color Purple

Who won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the novel The Color Purple?

And the answer: Alice Walker.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker first edition cover.

Born in 1944, Alice Walker is an American author, poet, and activist. The Color Purple won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and was adapted into a critically acclaimed movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey.

Before she went on to become a Pulitzer-winning novelist, Walker was born the eighth in a family of sharecroppers in Eatonton, Georgia. Early in her adolescence, Walker suffered from a BB gun accident, losing vision in one eye. While Walker's injury kept her out of helping with chores, her mother gave her a typewriter to pass the time instead. It was there that the young author's love for storytelling was born.

After two years at Spelman College and another two at Sarah Lawrence College, Walker released her first several collections of poetry and short stories, many of which dealing in issues of sexism and abuse in the African American community. Upon moving to California in the 1980s, Walker released her most recognized work: The Color Purple. The story follows a young girl named Celie, who narrates in a series of letters addressed to God. The narrative movingly depicts the growing up and self-realization of Celie, who overcomes oppression and abuse to find fulfillment and independence.

While critically acclaimed, Walker's novel became a source of controversy for its explicit language and violence. In fact, it ranked seventeenth on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009. However, a consequential film adaptation by Steven Spielberg defended the novel's rich themes and important messages of self-liberation in the face of injustice. And, as Walker became the first Black woman to receive a Pulitzer for Fiction, her legacy remains intact as a master storyteller and activist.

Watch the trailer for the 1985 film adaptation below.


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