When Walker published the novel in 1982, one of the most highly praised features of the book was its use of language. Mel Watkins of The New York Book Review commented that the novel “assumes a lyrical cadence of its own...The cumulative effect is a novel that is convincing because of the authenticity of its folk voice.” The language was particularly important to Walker. She later explained what happened after she sent her finished novel to a leading black women’s magazine which, she believed, probably would recognize its merits quicker than anybody else. The magazine turned the novel down, however, on the ground that “black people don’t talk like that” (Garrett & McCue, 1990, p. 229). The subsequent success of the novel exposes such totalizing statements as untrue, for it is Celie’s powerfully idiomatic voice that captures her specific situation and that of so many African Americans of her time.
On December 1, 2005, a musical adaptation of the novel (based on the film) opened at The Broadway Theatre in New York City. The show was produced by Scott Sanders , Quincy Jones , Harvey Weinstein , and Oprah Winfrey , who was also an investor.  It garnered five 2006 Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, including Outstanding Broadway Musical and Outstanding New Score. That same year, the show was nominated for eleven Tony Awards , including Best Musical, Best Original Score Written for the Theater, and Best Leading Actress in a Musical ( LaChanze ). LaChanze did win the Tony Award, though the show itself won no other awards. LaChanze's win was attributed to the variety of roles for which she had garnered positive attention, as well as for a powerful backstory. In April 2007, Fantasia Barrino took over the role. The Broadway production ended its run on February 24, 2008.