A New York Times bestseller, this novel tells the story of a tribal African woman now living in North America, who tries to reconcile her African heritage with her experience as a modern woman in America.
"Less manipulator than instructor--but both are the rightful roles of the artist--Walker makes the reader wince at the subject matter of her new novel while at the same time admire the adroit (which means, in this case, nonsensational) way she treats it. She follows her widely discussed novel, The Color Purple, and its less-talked-about successor, The Temple of My Familiar, with a certain-to-be-read fictional venture into an unenlightened social practice that unfortunately still exists in some parts of the world. Female circumcision is depicted by Walker as mutilation of not only the body but the psyche; specifically, Walker details the life of Tashi, a woman who grew up in the Olinka tribe in Africa but spent most of her adult life in the U.S. As a child, when the custom of circumcision is ordinary carried out among Olinka females, Tashi was spared; later, though, her muddled need to reidentify with her origins causes her to submit to the tribal circumciser's blade. Rather than reknitting her soul to that of her people, the episode and its disastrous consequences alienate her body from sexuality and her mind from reality. How she reconciles herself to her plight--and in the process secures vengeance for the many young women who have undergone mutilation before her--is a staggering, but befitting, climax to a novel poised in its avoidance of polemics, confident in the grit of its language, and beautiful in its dual understanding of inhumanity and humanity. (Reviewed Apr. 15, 1992)0151731527Brad Hooper"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Pulitzer Prize winner Walker illustrates the truism that violence begets violence in this strong-voiced but often stridentan obvious novel? and polemical novel. The focus of Walker's rage is the practice of female circumcision in African cultures. Her tale concerns Tashi, a character who made fleeting appearances in The Color Purple and The Temple of My Familiar , and who here represents an archetypal figure, not so much a woman as a mouthpiece for feminist distress. Tashi grows up in a small African village but initially escapes the customary clitorodectomy. Eventually she is coerced into having the operation as a means of offering fealty to the sinister politician called Our Leader. When she moves to the U.S. with her husband and assumes a new identity as Evelyn Johnson, her pain and anger, accumulating the suffering of the ages, bubble to the surface in a lingering madness that therapy does not assuage and thatwhy not delete this next phrase (through `finally') as point is made in previous sentence and `accumulate' is repeated, and incorporate the point about ``the ages'' into the previous sentenc finally culminates in murder. Walker tells the story in very brief chapters, each loaded with the sense of the historical importance she wishes to convey, but the fragile narrative cannot support the weight of her overwrought prose. Walker's protest against ok? author's ''message'' in the last review ``what men . . . do to us'' cannot be faulted; its guise as a novel, however, can. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved