<<• Book review of Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker•>> I bid a transient good-bye to Tashi in the Color Purple, barely noticing her; In “Possessing…” though Tashi unleashes her fullest reality, clawing her way into my own. Tashi undergoes circumcision to honour her Olinkan traditions & though traditionally done on children, she chooses to do it during her teen years which leads to a lot of trauma impacting both her life & those surrounding her. So effective were Walker’s creations that for the 270 pages I was possessed, it took me longer to process the book.
But, as I processed I realised that a couple of things that seemed incandescent during my feverish reading, began to ebb in the calmness of my afterthought. I wonder why. #TheColorPurple is still fresh in my mind & I would recommend it to everyone without missing a beat, but would I recommend “Possessing…” to everyone? Perhaps not & here’s why:
Although passionately written, I felt that Walker’s Olinka was unfairly sketched. Its true that the Olinkan traditions depicted in the story were cruel, however the undercurrent of the subtle glorification of the American life made me suspect. I am unsure if Walker herself really intended to do this but I could not shrug this off. On page 169 for instance, Walker writes, “sometimes an American looks like me (Tashi)”, that there is an easy answer to what an Olinkan looks like but that doesn’t hold true for an American.
Her argument that ‘culture’ isn’t neutral, and that torture is not culture (parallels can be drawn to Indian context – Sati for eg) is something I completely agree with. However, I would hate for such a text to fall in the hands of those who would decontextualize the text & guzzle down Walker’s criticism of Olinkan traditions. Especially because Olinka, which is fictional seems to represent a pan-African culture & could be misinterpreted to represent real African traditions without a responsible enquiry; doing so would not only be grossly careless but also fatal to both the intentions of Walker’s work & feminist effort in general.
A four ⭐️ read for me with a tremendous amount of trigger warning & caution. #bookstagram
#Whatareyoudoing ?! Here I am asking papa to send me around to pick up and drop off some paperwork for le clients. I am always #thankful that he is still driving simply because we get to keep in touch that lil more. P.s: My rides are not free hor, in fact, I make sure I give more!
Just in case you hop on to his taxi, please remember to say hello! It is a rainy day, keep warm and drive safe ah! Have a good one people!
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