Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker

S. & S. Audio. Apr. 2022. ed. by Valerie Boyd. 22:28 hrs. ISBN 9781797118628. $34.99. LIT
Edited by the late writer and critic Boyd, this compilation of over three decades of Walker’s journal writings provides an intimate window into the musings, worries, irritations, and dreams of the National Book Award– and Pulitzer Prize–winning author. Narrator Janina Edwards and actress and producer Aunjanue Ellis join their voices with Walker’s in order to present this sprawling and completely absorbing portrait. Voicing Boyd’s editorial comments, Edwards’s narration is precise and polished. Walker herself reads the postscript, sharing her poet’s voice—seasoned, resonant, and true. It is Ellis’s narration, however, that steals the show, which is fitting, as her part as the younger Walker is at the heart of this audiobook. Listeners will be enchanted by the playfulness and authenticity that she infuses into her performance, allowing the fullness of Walker’s words to shine. Each nuance and emotion—a suppressed laugh, the tightness of rage, and the prickliness of frustration—comes through in the narration.
VERDICT Highly recommended. This audio treat for fans of Walker and her contemporaries is an essential purchase for libraries wishing to honor the achievements of Black authors, creators, and activists.
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