By the Light of My Father's Smile

BOOK: By the Light of My Father's Smile
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Walker's narrative chronicles the lives, loves and deaths of the Robinson family.… Its characters attempt to mend broken hearts, stifled dreams, war-torn bodies and weary spirits.… The novel presents the greatest quest as that to the realm of grace and forgiveness in the midst of spiritual turmoil, self-delusion and intimate betrayal.”

Miami Herald

“With explicit sexual flair and fluid, descriptive prose, Walker explores the function and dysfunction of sexuality, as it relates to the growth of the human spirit. She glides unabashedly into her storytelling and her personal purpose without hesitation or a moment's regret.… Her descriptive prowess and fast-paced plotting make each chapter a joy to read. Her unyielding passion and purpose make this a hard book to put down.”

The Denver Post

“Lyrical and profound … Examines how a family's sexuality—and denial of same—turns its daughters into the women they are, and want to be.”


“Ultimately, this is a novel of the late 20th century, a tale of healing and forgiveness, a contemplation and meditation on the meaning of death, and a celebration of the spiritual nature of sex.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer

By the Light of My Father's Smile
, Alice Walker offers us a gift of different flowers that beautifully bloom in memory, in music and in meaning. And she speaks to us in every voice. Every culture. In the now and always … Journey with Alice. Park judgment in long-term. Travel the distance in this memory-music-meaning book.”

San Antonio Express-News

“[A] luminous ending … Ultimately soothes us with the hope that forgiveness is ever possible and life goes on.”

Atlanta Journal & Constitution


A passionate, richly detailed celebration of sexuality … By far Walker's most erotic novel.”


“[Walker] maintains her standing as a wonderful storyteller. She continues to offer challenging works that make her readers question their perceptions and beliefs.”

San Diego Union-Tribune

“A daring novel … straddling both the spiritual and sensual realms in a lusty hosanna of healing and redemption.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“As the story moves back and forth in time, the characters have regrets, rejoice in the love they once shared, recognize their true selves beneath the pain and hate, explore nature's goodness and pleasures, and move on to a beautiful understanding of how things should have been. Walker startles us several times in the journey, makes us laugh, and brings us to tears with poetry she weaves through her beautiful story.”

Sunday Record
(Hackensack, NJ)

“Alice Walker … breaks boundaries in her new book,
By the Light of My Father's Smile
.… The writing is compelling and lyrical.”

Raleigh News & Record

“Walker has drawn some fascinating characters, and her descriptions of Mexico and Greece are enthralling.… You won't soon forget the glorious Mundo, who live in harmony with nature, balance the wants of the body with the needs of the soul and believe in dying with a song on their lips. They are the spark that truly animates
By the Light of My Father's Smile

The Hartford Courant

“Admirers of Alice Walker's fiction will be enthralled by her latest novel.… As much an incantation as it is a story.”

New York Daily News

By the Light of My Father's Smile

A Story of Requited Love, Crossing Over,
and the Sexual Healing of the Soul

By the Light of My Father's Smile
is a work of fiction. All names, characters, incidents, and places, are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A Ballantine Book
Published by The Random House Publishing Group
Copyright © 1998 by Alice Walker

Ballantine Reader's Guide copyright © 1999 by Alice Walker and The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to
. magazine for permission to reprint the interview with Alice Walker entitled “Alice Walker on Finding Your Bliss” by Evelyn Walker.

Ballantine and colophon are registered trademarks and Ballantine Reader's Circle and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 99–90801

eISBN: 978-0-307-81695-5

This edition published by arrangement with Random House, Inc.



To you, victorious

        who taught me

        fuzz of peach

        wet of pear

light of owl

        shine of


        This scandalous

        prayer of



                  both remembrance




in kinship with






             the delightful cousins


May Life be thanked

for them

We should rise up and praise when we talk about what friendship is and love is and what lovers are about—this interpenetration of one another's souls by way of the body. That's so marvellous! I think angels are envious of humans because we have bodies; they don't, and love-making makes the angels flap their wings in envy.… Human sexuality is a mystical moment in the history of the Universe. All the angels and all the other beings come out to wonder at this.


Natural Grace: Dialogues on Science and Spirituality

Rupert Sheldrake and Matthew Fox

The reason people and angels hover around human sexuality is because it is a light source that has been kept in the dark.



help us

to help


Mundo prayer


When she goes to the city she leaves me lounging in the swing underneath the oak tree. She visualizes me as a shadow, as her car zooms around the curves that take her rapidly down the mountain. She is listening to a music I have not heard in many years. At first I think it is Portuguese fado; then I realize it is flamenco, which is also characterized by passion and profound sadness. She moans along with the woman who is singing—wailing, really—her hands gripping the steering wheel to the plangent cries of the singer and the sobbing of violins. The momentum of her flight sets the old swing to rocking. Her car is old and black. It was another expression of my effort to contact her.

She was not even aware at the time of my death that she missed me. Poor child. She did not cry at my funeral. She was a stoic spectator. Her heart, she thought, was closed. I watched her looking down at me, the father who gave her life, with the passivity of one who has borne all she intends to bear. She did not even bother to smirk as platitudes about me—most of them absurd—filled the church around her. When an especially large falsehood
was uttered—that I would never have hurt a fly, for instance—she merely closed her eyes. At the gravesite she clutched the arm of her Greek husband, with his hard curly hair and black mustache, and, leaning as if to whisper in his hairy ear, discreetly yawned.

BOOK: By the Light of My Father's Smile
11.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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