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Buddhaland Brooklyn: A Novel Paperback – July 9, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Buddhaland Brooklyn is a rare gem of a novel in that it is rich with both fabulous description and a juicy plot.” (Shambala Sun)

"The world Morais creates is quirky and enchanting. His recurring rumination on the meaning of enlightenment and acceptance is worth savoring." (Washington Independent Review of Books)

"Readers who follow Morais's lyrical narrative will find spiritual redemption of their own in his search for the paradisiacal Buddhaland. A vivid portrait of faith lost and found through the eyes of a Japanese Buddhist monk in America." (Shelf Awareness)

"Morais has struck gold with this novel, which is simultaneously funny, sad, and enlightening." (Spencer Daily Reporter)

“In exquisite prose, Buddhaland Brooklyn illuminates the hearts of wholly different cultures – an isolated Buddhist monastery; bustling New York - and also the universal truths of human life. Reverend Seido Oda’s journey from shut-down, haughty priest to compassionate religious leader is a profoundly moving one making for a complex, beautiful book that lingers in the imagination long after the last line is read.”

--Robin Black, author of If I loved you, I would tell you this

“[Morais] has a definite talent for evoking a place – his descriptions of Japan in Buddhaland Brooklyn resonate like watercolors painted on silk panels. The secondary characters are fully realized and the journey to enlightenment is full of entertaining detours.” (Book Sexy Reviews.com)

"A delightful and insightful fish-out-of water tale.” (New York Post)

“A charming and touching tale of discovery… certain to be appreciated by those who enjoy reading about the human condition.” (Library Journal)

“Eloquent, unique, funny, tender, sad, and pristine in its delivery.”— (Luxury Reading.com)

About the Author

Richard C. Morais is the editor of Penta, a Barron's website and quarterly magazine. An American raised in Switzerland, Morais has lived most of his life overseas, returning to the United States in 2003. He is the author of The Hundred-Foot Journey, now a major Hollywood film starring Helen Mirren and Om Puri, and Buddhaland Brooklyn. He lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (July 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451669232
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451669237
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I had read The Hundred-Foot Journey by Morais last year and I really enjoyed it, but I think I liked this one even more. It is the story of Oda and his journey from his boyhood with his family in Japan to being middle age and moving to Brooklyn to help with the opening of a new temple.

Morais does a wonderful job with making Oda a complex and interesting character to read about. His journey through life was filled with hardships and surprises and I loved reading about his growth as a person throughout the journey. The beginning of the book is about his early years in Japan with lots of descriptions of his home and what his duties were as an acolyte in the monastery. Though all of this was interesting I felt like the book really got good when Oda moved to Brooklyn. It was such a huge step out of his comfort zone in so many ways and is was wonderful to watch him change into a stronger and better person without him really realizing it himself. The other part that made the Brooklyn part of the book more fun were all of the quirky characters that were part of Oda's new world. It was great to see so many different personalities try to work together for the common goal of getting the new temple opened.

Lots of little details are included that add to the book like descriptions of a Brooklyn neighborhood, the painting that Oda loved to do, poetry, and a look into what it means to be a follower of Buddhism. All of these come together to make a delightful book filled with love, humor, and sections that will really make you think about your own life. It made me want to try stepping out of my own comfort zone a little bit and see what happens!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Seido Oda, raised in the mountains of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, is sent by his parents at age eleven to become a Buddhist monk. At the monastery he is trained in the discipline of Buddhism. He briefly goes to Tokyo to study Japanese art. At 39 he is taken from his beautiful surroundings in the mountain monastery and is sent to oversee the building of a Buddhist temple in Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn is an alien culture and landscape. Oda is a reserved person, in fact emotionally shut down. He is horrified by the in your face emotionality of his congregation of acolytes. By the end of the novel he must break through his own inner demons in order to be more fully alive to the true teachings of the Buddha.

Odas story has possibilities but the author's handling of them leaves much to be desired. I enjoyed the first part of the book. The author portrays in loving detail the mountains and waterfalls of Oda's Japan, as well as its trees and animals which provide a sense of comfort and tranquility to the young Oda. However, when Oda arrives in Brooklyn the novel lapses into a cartoonish atmosphere. The Brooklyn acoloytes are portrayed as a group of boorish buffoons and are unlike any American Buddhists I have ever encountered. Of course in a thoroughly predictable way, after Oda has his emotional break through everything is nicely resolved and the boors become human beings.

I lived in the area of Brooklyn the author describes for most of my life, and the geography just rings false. Nor will you learn much about the underlying tenets of Buddhism from reading this book, despite the fact that at the end of the book the author lists the Buddhist books he used for research purposes. The Buddhism espoused here is as fake as the Brooklyn landscape where it takes place.
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Format: Paperback
A young Japanese boy, Seido,was sent to a Buddhist temple to be trained as a priest. Neither he nor his older brother knew why he was chosen from among the four children in their family. When Seido was in the temple, his family perished in a fire. As a grown man and schooled in Buddhism, Seido was sent to build a temple in Brooklyn. Learning to adapt to Western culture and falling in love with a woman, Seido learnt the meaning of Buddhism in its fullest sense. He also understood a long forgotten event which shed light on the question why he and not his sibling was chosen for priesthood.

This book is at times humourous and amusing, but for the most part it is a tract on the difficult questions of life and the Buddhist way of dealing with them. It deals with the problems ignorance can bring, but knowledge is not necessarily a boon unless one knows how to handle it.

If you enjoy this book, you might also enjoy his first novel, 'The Hundred-foot Journey', now a motion picture, starring Helen Mirren.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very interesting and entertaining book. I bought it because of the author's previous book and was very pleasantly surprised with the story and the characters. I also enjoyed the history of the American Buddhist movement in Brooklyn. The early part of the book and the Japanese culture also made the book so interesting.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Just days after his reluctant initiation into the Buddhist priesthood at eleven years old, Oda's entire family is killed in a fire that razes their inn. Determined to honour his family, Oda dedicates his life to studying the principles of his religion and finds comfort in the quiet rituals of his existence. He is bewildered when, as Oda nears his fortieth birthday, he is sent to New York to oversee the establishment of the sect's first Buddhist temple, certain his social awkwardness and conservative views render him ill equipped to deal with the assignment.

Oda is shocked on his arrival in New York, not only by the towering buildings and busy streets, which are an assault on the senses after a lifetime spent in a small mountain village, but also with the motley group of worshipers seeking spiritual enlightenment.

"You'll be very impressed" he said "...I've been giving a series of lectures on the proper Buddhist practice, based on my extensive study. It's very rigorous. Intellectually."
"This is commendable. And the lectures are based on what study material?"
"Tons of books. The Reader's Digest Encyclopedia of Religion, Tales of Siddhartha, Buddhism for Dummies. The list goes on and on." p86

Reverend Oda is horrified, if not surprised, by this conversation with a member of the Temple board just days after his arrival. It seems to him that the American flock tend to pick and choose the most convenient principles of Buddhism to follow. Oda however is intent on imposing order and proper practice on the Believers, though with little hope of success.

Morais shares some astute commentary about the assumption of cultures, society and religions in Buddhaland Brooklyn.
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