The Color Purple, which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, and was subsequently adapted into an Academy Award–nominated film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. Walker is known for her deep and unflinching explorations of black life in America, particularly the experiences of black women. In her public life, Walker has worked to address problems of injustice, inequality, and poverty as an activist, teacher, and public intellectual.
In The Color Purple Walker writes about the life of Celie, a young black woman living in the segregated South who undergoes a sexual and spiritual awakening. The 1983 novel represented a major breakthrough for mainstream African-American fiction, inviting favorable comparisons to the work of William Faulkner and prompting the New York Times Book Review to declare Walker a “lavishly gifted writer.”