The cushion in the road Meditation and wandering as the whole world awakens to being in harm's way

Alice Walker, 1944-

Book - 2013

"The Cushion in the Road" revisits themes the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, poet, essayist, and activist has addressed throughout her career: racism, Africa, solidarity with the Palestinian people, the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, Cuba, healthcare, and the work of Aung San Suu Kyi. In doing so, Walker explores her conflicting impulses to retreat into inner contemplation and to remain deeply engaged with the world.

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Published
New York : The New Press 2013.
Language
English
Physical Description
363 p.
ISBN
9781595588722
1595588728
Main Author
Alice Walker, 1944- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Walker's declaration, "I have been a political, social, and spiritual activist for most of my life, and feel connected to peoples and struggles all over the world," sets the tone and focus of her latest, poem-laced essay collection, as does her characterization of herself as a "person of three colors (African, Native American, European)." Walker traces the roots of these trinities of vocation and identity to her mid-twentieth-century childhood in overtly racist Georgia as she writes of her devotion to gardening and meditation and her remarkable global journeys as an intrepid advocate for peace and justice. Although the book begins with dated, oddly awkward essays about President Obama's first term, Walker's compassion, courage, and humor gain strength and eloquence essay by essay. She shares her openhearted views on love; condemns torture and war; offers distinctive perspectives on Cuba, South Africa, and Gaza; pays homage to her heroes, from Howard Zinn to Aung San Suu Kyi, John Lennon, and Julian Assange; critiques books, which she calls "lifeboats"; and assures us that we can all help bring about change for the communal good. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Media attention will surge for this provocative collection by Walker, a revered writer of conscience. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In linking meditation to wandering, the distinguished and prolific Walker, whose books include the Pulitzer Prize– and National Book Award–winning The Color Purple, produces a meandering assortment of her ideas and musings between 2008 and 2012 about matters spiritual, political, and personal. Figuring in her diverse and self-absorbed ruminations are, among others, Obama, Hilary Clinton, Dennis Banks, Cicely Tyson, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and John Lennon. The mélange includes her reflections on her favorite films and audiobooks, her officiating at a gay marriage, her own "marriage"—to her cat and dog, her imagining Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's response to the drug cartels, along with her public letters to, among others, Aung San Suu Kyi and Nawal El Saadawi. She notes that her "mentor and teacher" include the Dalai Lama and Amma, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Castro and Mandela. The section "On Palestine"—where Walker recounts her journey to Gaza with Code Pink, her participation in the Freedom Flotilla, and argues for a "one-state settlement"—will likely attract the most attention. Walker's concern for the state of humanity and the planet comes through as impassioned and genuine, as does her view of the place of meditation in her personal life. Agent: Wendy Weil, the Wendy Weil Agency. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A collection of essays from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple addresses a wide range topics from the spiritual to the political, including racism, Africa, President Obama, Palestinians and healthcare. 30,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A collection of essays addresses topics ranging from the spiritual to the political, including racism, Africa, Barack Obama's presidency, Palestinian solidarity, and healthcare.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In her newest collection of wide-ranging meditations on our intertwined personal, spiritual, and political destinies, Alice Walker writes that ?we are beyond a rigid category of color, sex, or spirituality if we are truly alive.” For the millions of her devoted fans?and for readers of Walker’s bestselling 2006 book We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For in particular?here is a new ?gift of words” (Essence) that invites readers on a journey of political awakening and spiritual insight.The Cushion in the Road revisits themes the Pulitzer Prize?winning novelist, poet, essayist, and activist has addressed throughout her career: racism, Africa, solidarity with the Palestinian people, the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, Cuba, healthcare, and the work of Aung San Suu Kyi. In doing so, Walker explores her conflicting impulses to retreat into inner contemplation and to remain deeply engaged with the world. Through the evocative image of the meditation cushion in the road, she finds a delicate balance between these two paths and invites her readers to do so, too.Rich with humor, wisdom, and Walker’s unique eye for the telling details of human experience and the natural world, The Cushion in the Road shows Walker at the height of her literary powers, reveals the depths of her spiritual and political understandings, and will surely be an inspiration for all.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The National Book Award– and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple explores our modern world with “compassion, courage, and humor” (Booklist).   Alice Walker once ached for retirement, but in the turmoil of the Democratic primaries and the economic collapse of 2008, she realized she simply had a great deal more to say. Leaving her meditation cushion behind, she found herself traveling the world once again to speak of our intertwined personal, spiritual, and political destinies through ruminations, poems, essays, and letters.   At the height of her literary powers, this revered American novelist, poet, essayist, and activist invites readers on a journey of political awakening and spiritual insight. While visiting subjects she has addressed throughout her career—including racism, Africa, Palestinian solidarity, and Cuba—as well as addressing emergent issues, such as the presidency of Barack Obama and health care, Walker explores her conflicting impulses to retreat into inner contemplation and to remain deeply engaged with the world.   Rich with humor and wisdom, and informed by Walker’s unique eye for the details of human and natural experience, The Cushion in the Road is “a heartfelt response to a new generation’s yearning for public service” (Kirkus Reviews).   “Walker’s concern for the state of humanity and the planet comes through as impassioned and genuine.” —Publishers Weekly   “Quintessential Alice Walker: edgy, demanding, prayerful, loving, and aware. An essential companion for those who wish to be a force for positive change in our perpetually challenging world.” —ForeWord Magazine   “Infused with a quiet grace and gentle resolve to act responsibly.” —Kirkus Reviews