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San Miguel Reads The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker

By Diana Berman

The 5th annual San Miguel Big Read is delighted to announce that our featured writer this year is the internationally renowned author Alice Walker with her book, The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker. Alice Walker will present a keynote address at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference on February 11 at 6pm in the Real de Minas ballroom here in San Miguel.

The San Miguel Writer’s Conference and Literary Festival
Presents: The 5th Annual Big Read Launch Event
The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker
Thu, Jan 8, 5pm
Hotel Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio 15

Walker is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Color Purple, along with more than 30 other books including novels, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. The Big Read selection for this year, The World Has Changed, brings to light the heart and mind of one of the world’s most celebrated living writers, and the vision underpinning her extraordinary body of work. The book presents conversations between Walker and other significant literary and cultural figures, including Isabel Allende and Howard Zinn. Arranged chronologically from 1973 through 2009, the conversations reflect different stages of Walker’s artistic and spiritual development. The book promises to add context and understanding to Alice Walker’s keynote presentation, entitled Infinite Grace: The Inexhaustible Wonder of Writing. Rather than a conventional keynote address, Alice Walker’s keynote will be a conversation with local writer Carol Merchasin, author of the essay collection This is Mexico.

Leading up to Walker’s appearance here in San Miguel, the Big Read is presenting two pre-Conference programs to provide an in-depth introduction to Alice Walker. The first program is a comprehensive overview of Walker’s life, to be presented at Teatro Santa Ana, January 19 at 5pm. The PBS American Masters video, Truth In Beauty: The Life of Alice Walker, is the story of Walker’s life from her youth as a farm girl in the rural South, through college, the Civil Rights Movement, and her participation in the feminist movement; publication of The Color Purple; her activist interest in and book about genital mutilation in Africa and the severe personal criticism that led to; and her evolving spiritual development⎯all told through photos, interviews of social and literary figures such as Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and several others, plus some of Walker’s poems. It is a truly beautiful, insightful and honest film.

The second pre-Conference program is a presentation of Alice Walker’s famous film, The Color Purple, also at the Teatro Santa Ana, on January 26 at 5pm.

Gloria Steinem

This year we are also honored to present Gloria Steinem at the Conference as a keynote speaker. The Big Read will present a special program highlighting Steinem’s enormous contribution to the feminist movement by showing a pastiche of interviews with her that highlight the development of the movement and how it has evolved from the 1960s, along with Steinem’s own present and future goals. This third pre-Conference program will take place on February 2 at 5pm a t the Teatro Santa Ana.

Big Read Book Groups

The launch of The Big Read is a community-wide program that will take place at the Literary Sala’s regular monthly event at the Hotel Posada de la Aldea on January 8 at 5pm. At that time, Bobbi Salisch will offer sign-up sheets for one-time book groups that will meet to discuss Walker’s book. Discussion questions will also be available for the use of book groups. Walker’s book will be for sale at this meeting.

Participation in a Big Read book group (or your own book group that might choose to read the Big Read selection), reviewing the discussion questions, and attending the special Big Read pre-Conference programs will enrich your knowledge of these two great authors, Walker and Steinem, and add context to your reading of their work.

Book Club Boot Camp

Existing book groups will also be interested in attending The Book Club Boot Camp, a special part of the Writers’ Conference open to the public. Offering guidelines and suggestions for enriching your Book Group experience, it will take place on Saturday, February 14 at 11am in the Real de Minas Hotel ballroom. Tickets are available online at They will also be for sale the morning of the event at the Registration Tent right behind the hotel.

Diana Berman is the Big Read Director


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