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  • Published: New York, N. Y. : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992.
  • Year Published: 1992
  • Description: 286 p. ; 25 cm.
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

ISBN/Standard Number

  • 0671789422 :
  • 0151731527 :


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Possessing the secret of joy

by Walker, Alice, 1944-

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Call number: Fiction

Community Reviews


The way that this story jumped around both between people and in time (and with Tashi/Evelyn's changing name, though once I figured that out I liked it) sometimes threw me. BUT, having said that, the content of the story was deep. Tashi's journey was intense, and Adam's love and commitment to her tugged at my heart.

Was Tashi the most sane person in the story, fully possessing all her senses, or was she out of touch with reality? If what had happened to her happened to anyone else, how would they respond?

This is the third book I have read that deals directly with female genital mutilation. (The others were _Infidel_ by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and _Footsteps_ by Kirsten Johnson.) But this is the first one I've read that addressed the idea that FGM crossed the ocean and came to the US. It makes sense... when African women were taken as slaves, why *wouldn't* that practice have crossed the ocean as well? But that never occurred to me.

Beautifully written, heart-wrenching in a variety of ways, powerful on many dimensions.

Read this book!

"Possessing the Secret of Joy" tells the story of Taski, a minor character in Alice Walker's "The Color Purple." Tashi has undergone female genital mutilation because she believes it will make her strong and honor her African heritage. Instead, the mutilation causes her to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so she must see several psychologists. Her son's birth is also traumatic because of the scars the multilation left on her and so he has a congitive disability.
As with many of her books, "Possessing the Secret of Joy" contains a love triangle and explicitly deals with violence. Readers will (rightfully) find the violence disturbing but should nonetheless read it as FGM is a serious problem in our world. From this book I learned that doctors in the US used to commit FGM against women here.

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