The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harmm


This “impassioned and genuine” (Publishers Weekly) collection of essays gathers the “lavishly gifted” (The New York Times) Alice Walker’s wide-ranging meditations on our intertwined personal, spiritual, and political destinies. For the millions of loyal fans who continue to flock to hear her speak, this book invites readers on a journey of political awakening and spiritual insight.

Widely discussed in the media, including in publications as varied as Ebony, the Chicago Tribune,...

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The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm's Way

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This “impassioned and genuine” (Publishers Weekly) collection of essays gathers the “lavishly gifted” (The New York Times) Alice Walker’s wide-ranging meditations on our intertwined personal, spiritual, and political destinies. For the millions of loyal fans who continue to flock to hear her speak, this book invites readers on a journey of political awakening and spiritual insight.

Widely discussed in the media, including in publications as varied as Ebony, the Chicago Tribune, and Ms., The Cushion in the Road finds the Pulitzer Prize–winning writer at the height of her literary powers. Walker writes that we are beyond rigid categories of color, sex, or spirituality if we are truly alive. She visits themes she has addressed throughout her career—including racism, Africa, Palestinian solidarity, and Cuba—as well as the presidency of Barack Obama. Combining ecstatic lyricism with vivid narratives, Walker explores her conflicting impulses to retreat into inner contemplation and to remain deeply engaged with the world, never once sacrificing the emotional bond that has made her so dear to so many readers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for The Cushion in the Road:
“Walker’s compassion, courage, and humor gain strength and eloquence essay by essay. . . . Media attention will surge for this provocative collection by Walker, a revered writer of conscience.”

"The Cushion in the Road is 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."

Praise for Alice Walker:
"Alice Walker is a muse for our times . . . she touches the soul, and propels us to action."
—Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!

"A lavishly gifted writer."
The New York Times

Publishers Weekly
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.)
Library Journal
In this collection of articles, letters, lectures, poems, and essays, Pulitzer Prize winner Walker (The Color Purple) reaffirms her role as an activist working for peace and justice. The book opens with an essay expressing her hopes for Barack Obama’s presidency in 2008 and continues with promoting a series of human rights causes, from the controversy surrounding U.S. Army private Bradley Manning and Burma’s political opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to her support for Cuba’s former prime minister Fidel Castro. One of her major concerns remains the plight of the Palestinians, a cause she has long championed. Her impassioned, hard-line approach has alienated some supporters of Israel and caused Walker to be labeled as anti-Semitic.

Verdict Despite her fiery political views, Walker presents a vision of life filled with prayer, purpose, and commitment that will inspire many. This articulate book will appeal to Walker fans and readers dedicated to political change.—Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

e, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
In a new collection, Walker (The Chicken Chronicles, 2012, etc.) once again shows herself to be a deep and compassionate participant in global humanitarian efforts. Beginning with a meditation on the promise wrought by the first inauguration of Barack Obama, the author's essays, poems and letters are infused with a quiet grace and gentle resolve to act responsibly. Although now in her 60s and looking forward to a time to "withdraw from the worldly fray," Walker was prodded off her meditation "cushion" in Mexico by world events and sent flying to far-flung places in the world that required her keen, writerly eyewitness. For example, one essay was inspired by finding herself in Cape Town, South Africa, as a juror at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. She also headed to Gaza with CODEPINK and the Freedom Flotilla II, and she composed another essay about her "overcoming speechlessness" after the horrors witnessed in Rwanda and Eastern Congo. Brave, resilient and upbeat, Walker offers unbending meditations on injustice wherever she has met it. The "womanist" author explains why she supported Obama over "Mrs. Clinton" ("if he wins the presidency we will have not one but three black women in the White House…none of them carrying the washing in and out of the back door") and offers reflections on her early teacher Howard Zinn and her early work for the freedom movement in Mississippi. Walker's "recipe[s] for difficult times" provide a heartfelt response to a new generation's yearning for public service.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595589866
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 380,240
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Walker is one of the most prolific writers of our time, known for her literary fiction, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Color Purple; her many volumes of poetry; and her powerful nonfiction collections, including We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For and The Chicken Chronicles (both available from The New Press). Her advocacy for the dispossessed has spanned the globe. She lives in Northern California.


Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple, which was preceded by The Third Life of Grange Copeland and Meridian. Her other bestselling novels include By the Light of My Father's Smile, Possessing the Secret of Joy and The Temple of My Familiar. She is also the author of two collections of short stories, three collections of essays, five volumes of poetry and several children's books. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages. Born in Eatonton, Georgia, Walker now lives in Northern California.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Alice Malsenior Walker (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Mendocino, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 9, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Eatonton, Georgia
    1. Education:
      B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1965; attended Spelman College, 1961-63

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