"It was strange, like a dream, to be in Japan one moment and America the next."
Welcome to the October 2013 installment of the New York Public Library's online book discussion group—the Reader's Den. In continuation of this year's New York theme, our title this month is Buddhaland Brooklyn by Richard C. Morais.
Just before his fortieth birthday Seido Oda, a monk since the age of eleven, is tasked with the establishment of new temple in Brooklyn, NY. The shy monk must leave the tranquil mountains of his monastery and journey across the ocean to "lead the ragtag army of eccentric New Yorkers who make up the local Buddhist community." He must work to overcome his own limitations in order to connect with the believers and help them refocus their misguided practices. In turn, Oda is also surprised to find that he has something to learn from the believers.
Let's journey together with Oda as he finds his place in the world and discovers the true meaning of home. It's humorous and entertaining, but it also has some serious moments, and I hope you will join me in reading and discussing Buddhaland Brooklyn.
About the author: Richard C. Morais, "author of The Hundred-Foot Journey, is the editor of Penta, a Barron's website and quarterly magazine providing advice to wealthy families. An American raised in Switzerland, he was stationed in London for 18 years, where he was Forbes's European bureau chief." (From the back flap)
Buddhaland Brooklyn was inspired by two fictional memoirs, both of which use four seasons (one year) to tell an entire life story. The first is an autobiographical film Amarcord by Federico Fellini, which portrays a satirical picture of his youth during the Italian Fascist period. The second is a book, The Year of My Life, by Kobayashi Issa, an eighteenth century Buddhist poet-priest; he tells his life story through haiku and verse. The author admits that the Buddhism presented in Buddhaland Brooklyn, including Oda's Headwater Sect, is a result of borrowing practices from several different sects and sources.
Copies of the book are available in both print and electronic formats.
- Week 1: Introduction and Reading Schedule
- Week 2: pages 1-69 (chapters 1-4)
- Week 3: pages 70-137 (chapters 5-8)
- Week 4: pages 138-197 (chapters 9-12)
- Week 5: pages 198-240 (chapters 13-15) and Closing Remarks
Check back each week in October for discussion questions. Remember that you do not have to wait for a question to post a comment about the book or the author. If you have anything (a like, a dislike, a question of our own, etc.) that you would like to share, then please feel free!