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A 75th birthday celebration for noted author and essayist Alice Walker is set for mid-July in her hometown Putnam County seat of Eatonton. And there is speculation at least that Oprah Winfrey, whose connections to Walker date to the 1980s, might show up to salute the writer in person.
Whether Winfrey will attend is anyone’s guess.
Putnam Sheriff Howard Sills says there has been talk of the possibility. At this point, however, he can’t be sure.
“I’m told,” the sheriff said of the chance the mega-celebrity might slip into town, “maybe.”
Walker turned 75 in February and a celebration of her and her achievements in literature is set for July 13. Walker is scheduled to attend the one-day event hosted by the Georgia Writers Museum in Eatonton.
According to a news release for the gathering at the city’s Plaza Arts Center, guests include novelist and playwright Pearl Cleage, author Tayari Jones, poet Kamilah Aisha Moon and gospel violinist Melanie R. Hill.
On Monday, Allison Law, a spokeswoman for the event, said Winfrey “hasn’t alerted us that she is planning to attend.”
Law added “there is always a possibility.”
It isn’t clear if Winfrey has ever visited Walker’s hometown, which sits below Interstate 20 and Lake Oconee about an hour southeast of downtown Atlanta.
Winfrey, a Mississippi native, has in the past spoken of her intimate connection to Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel published in 1982. Winfrey appeared in the film version inspired by the book three years later and has since produced a Broadway-musical version of the story.
In a 2006 interview with NBC’s Ann Curry, Winfrey said, “When I read the first line of Alice Walker’s book ‘The Color Purple,’ I remember sitting home and I think it took my breath away literally. You know, people use that phrase. But, I could not breathe.”