Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Buddhaland Brooklyn” as Want to Read:
Buddhaland Brooklyn
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Buddhaland Brooklyn

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  693 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
“The life of a man is like a ball in the river— no matter what our will wants or desires, we are swept along by an invisible current that finally delivers us to the limitless expanse of the black sea.â€

So reflects the elderly Buddhist priest Seido Oda as he considers the life that brought him from an idyllic mountainside village in Japan to the bustling streets of B

Hardcover, 244 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Scribner (first published July 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Buddhaland Brooklyn, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Buddhaland Brooklyn

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 01, 2012 Aimee rated it really liked it
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 adjusting to being an acolyte in a Buddhist monastery at the age of eleven to being responsible for the opening of a new temple in Brooklyn.

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 surpr
Sep 27, 2012 J. rated it really liked it
Seido Oda is a small child living with his family in the village of Katsura, Japan at the foot of Mount Nagata. His parents, Otou and Okaa, run an inn which caters to pilgrims of the fictional esoteric Buddhist cult of the Headwater Sect of Mahayana Buddhism. While Seido spends his time fishing with his older brother Daiki, something dark is happening to his father. He seems distant and when he is eleven years old Seido is sent to become an acolyte at the temple up the mountain. Soon after trage ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Seido Oda is a socially awkward, shy yet occasionally prickly Buddhist priest, who at the age of 41 is sent from his home monastery in Fukushima to oversee the construction of a new temple in Brooklyn, NY, and to educate the eclectic group of American followers. Oda is horrified by the assignment -- he's lived at the monastery since the age of 11, and following a childhood tragedy that occurred shortly after he became a Buddhist acolyte, he has shut himself off as much as possible from people, p ...more
Nicholas Trandahl
'Buddhaland Brooklyn' is the first novel written by Richard Morais that I've read. What a wonderful treasure, a slice-of-life work of contemporary fiction seasoned with Buddhism and urban Americana. This novel centers around a year in the life of a Japanese Buddhist Reverend sent to New York City by his order to open a Buddhist temple for American Believers. The seasons in 'Buddhaland Brooklyn', as they are in my own debut novel of contemporary fiction, are immensely important to the story and t ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

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 conserva
Oct 01, 2012 Julia rated it really liked it

A delicate weave of our desire to find freedom and unity through spiritual enlightenment and a cultural identity's possessive claim on an individual's world perception. Oda is a rather unlikely character, with life events that have dealt him a karmic calamity of discomfort, shame and fear. He has to face his own hypocracy, arrogance and misguided beliefs through his american buddists and their perculiar interpretations and practices of the buddist faith.
I particularly like the poem;
Over Brook
Jul 27, 2012 Connie rated it really liked it
This is a feel good listen with dharma (though the Buddhist sect depicted is fictional). The novel is unique and not at all saccharine, though it fits in the "happily ever after without angst" category. It's such an easy read, yet this novel has substance and poetry! I'm tempted to call it Paulo Coelo light, but I don't mean that as negative.

The publisher's descriptors of "fairy tale" and "fable" may mislead fantasy fans. While it can be heard as a fable about finding oneself, it's a storyline/
May 21, 2013 Vishvapani rated it liked it
A coming to America story, and mostly interesting (for me) as an attempt to describe the experience of an Asian Buddhist teacher - in this case a thinly disguised Nichiren Shoshu priest in coming to the West as a Dharma teacher. The writing about Japan is predictably 'delicate'; then comes a dose of social observation once Oda comes to the US. I would have enjoyed a bit more comedy, Trollope-style at the Americans' expense here.

The novel really comes into its own in the final section, which cha
Mar 06, 2016 Linda rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book very much. The narrator is a Japanese Buddhist priest sent to Brooklyn to organize the Buddhist community and finish building the temple. His initial views on America and Brooklyn were interesting and sometimes amusing. I also enjoyed the story of Seido's early life in Japan and how he became a priest. I recommend this book as well as the author's first novel The 100 Foot Journey.
Roberta Weiner
Jun 19, 2016 Roberta Weiner rated it it was amazing
Really loved this book. I had a little trouble getting started and read a few other books before coming back to it. His journey (literally and mainly metaphorically) is so human, so real, that it's very moving. I heard this described as a comedy and it definitely has comedic moments but I found it deeper and more moving.
Jan 22, 2014 Correen rated it really liked it

Moving from being an ordinary little boy in rural Japan to leadership of a Buddhist Temple not in Japan, our protagonist demonstrates the quest for enlightenment. It is touching, tragic, and humorous. I enjoyed his approach to problems, his turbulent self, and his ability to learn from disappointment.
Feb 23, 2015 Robyn rated it really liked it
What an absolutely lovely book! Calm, peaceful writing, descriptive and thought provoking all in equal measures. If you enjoyed The Hundred Foot Journey by the same author, you should surely enjoy this too. Loved it.
Jan 15, 2017 Sami rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great idea for a novel. Earnest and sincere effort but fails short. Characters are stereotypes and author fails to develop their third dimension. Only achieves 2.3-2.5 dimensions. Bad choice of choosing self-narration since this Japanese hardly-proficient-in-English protagonist "speaks" in idiomatic English and is familiar with some Yiddish .
Oct 16, 2013 Tripfiction rated it really liked it
“I had always thought, from my outpost on Mount Nagata, that great beauty could be the product of only of nature. But these American skyscrapers – columns of shiny black mica, windows the colour of tremolite – were redolent with something else. They spoke to me of man-made dreams made concrete and grounded in rock, of lives fully lived. They were the solid manifestations of soaring spirit and a kind of service to a greater cause. Even the broken Manhattan skyline, where the towers had once stood ...more
I saw the cover of this novel on CoverSpy and really liked the Brownstone-Brooklyn-meets-Hokusai design, so when I saw it at the library, I checked it out. The first-person narrator is sixty-ish Seido Oda, who was born in a small village in the mountains in rural Japan: he tells of how his parents were innkeepers, how he had three siblings, how, as a child, he was accepted as an acolyte at a local Buddhist temple. He talks about leaving his home and his village:
I was eleven years old and the tie
Apr 26, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it
The story begins in the remote mountain regions of Japan and monk Seido Oda is reflecting on his childhood and how be came to enter the temple as a small child. The reader is taken to a traditional family in a small village and introduced, one by one, to Oda's family. His hardworking parents, the brothers he adores and his small sister. Each character is brought to life by Morais, he draws each one perfectly - capturing each individual and giving them a real presence.

Oda himself is something of
Feb 05, 2015 Janel rated it liked it
There were many things I enjoyed about this spiritual, culture clash mash up of a story, and parts that I just simply wasn't feeling. The first 75 pages or so are spent following young Oda's childhood, family life and eventual summons into Buddhist priesthood in Japan. I found this part of the book necessary to set up Oda's "dark origins" backstory, and for the reader to be educated about Japan and it's spiritual traditions, landscape and the Buddhist lifestyle. I however found this all a bit dr ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Judith rated it liked it
It's always fun to read a book of extreme contrasts and in this story an introverted Japanese Buddhist priest is assigned to open a temple in Brooklyn, NY. To say he is reluctant to take this assignment is a vast understatement. Nonetheless, he is obedient and tries to fulfill his task. And from that we readers benefit from the humor and wisdom of the situational irony.

I was going to be very gentle in my criticism because I thought perhaps his book suffered from some problems in translation til
Vera Marie
Aug 25, 2012 Vera Marie rated it really liked it
This new novel, like meditation, encourages calm thoughts and some new insights into oneself and one’s culture. But it brings some laughs, too.

I gravitate to books that bring a culture to life, and since I’ve never been to Japan, I appreciated the subtle ways that Richard Morais introduces the Japanese mindset in Buddhaland Brooklyn . What we are used to, we assume, is “right” so we have no trouble reading about the culture of Japan–as Americans, comparing it to our own American culture.

In this
Sophie Gonzales
May 08, 2013 Sophie Gonzales rated it really liked it
Originally posted on my blog

Having had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Morais about Buddhaland Brooklyn earlier in the year (click here to read), it’s great to have finally read the novel itself. And, even better, I’m happy to say that I wasn't disappointed!

The novel unfolds at a gentle pace, which I felt reflects the overall theme very well. Usually, as I've mentioned several times in the past, stories that are slow to develop usually make me impatient but here I was happy to just let it bloss
Jan 27, 2014 Jim rated it liked it
At its core we have an innocent thrown into a melting pot, stirred and left to simmer for a few months. It’s a popular trope. The priest is an innocent alien and by that I don’t mean he’s an extra-terrestrial (think Mork or My Favourite Martian); I mean ‘alien’ as in ‘illegal alien’ only in his case his papers are all in order but he might as well be from outer space because New York is so different from the world he’s used to. That said, even in the Buddhist monastery he was the quiet one more ...more
Mar 15, 2014 Peter rated it it was ok
This book went from 4 stars down to two. I was actually thinking of giving it only one. It is the story of a Japanese Buddhist priest called Oda. He is transferred to Brooklyn New York to build a temple.

The book started well. But as soon as the action moved to USA it deteriorated. It sometimes reminded me of "Letters Back to Ancient China" by Herbert Rosendorfer where the main character also struggled with the modern culture. Only that Rosendorfer's book is a brilliant fascinating and funny nov
Erika Sajdak
Jul 30, 2012 Erika Sajdak rated it really liked it
All any of us can hope for are moments of enlightenment along the paths of our rocky, emotional lives. These paths twist dangerously, even for the priests of this imaginary sect of Buddhism, but the opportunities given along the way reach beyond the fetters of experience. We are all capable of recognizing our fears, acknowledging them, and walking past these anxieties "like rude relatives" who we have to tolerate.
In order for the novel to unfold and connect to each of us, we must have the histor
Joanna Brauckmann
May 16, 2015 Joanna Brauckmann rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book! Although cultural conflict and Buddhism are themes throughout, Oda's personal growth, from a lonely outsider plagued by the death of his family to prickly, arrogant priest, overly confident of his knowledge and blinded by his Japanese "everyone is other and lesser" lens, is forced when he is transplanted to Brooklyn. He does not want to bend, adapt or open. He is an oyster, tightly closed to every foreign idea. His personal journey is difficult, even painful, as he fig ...more
Jennifer H
Jul 19, 2013 Jennifer H rated it liked it
First, I want to say that I didn't like the end of the book - I felt let down somehow.

Anyway, I thoroughly liked the first part of the book about his life in Japan. And I liked how he adapted to New York, when he came to be the priest. I thought I was going to be mad, that I would feel like he let down his beliefs to deal with the American believers, but it evolved in a much more satisfactory way. He grew as a person from something that had stagnated his life for 30 plus years. I liked that tale
Nelda Brangwin
Aug 23, 2014 Nelda Brangwin rated it really liked it
I’m so glad the movie “Hundred Foot Journey” led me to find other books by Richard Morais. Does culture shape religion or should religion adapt to a culture? When Seido Oda is sent to a Buddhist temple in Japan to begin his life as a priest, he finds himself adapting to the quiet, reflective lifestyle. He comes to see his temple environment as the Buddhaland where he is in the best environment to understand his faith. But as he ages, he becomes demanding and very conservative in his views. He is ...more
Marisa Gonzalez
Nov 19, 2012 Marisa Gonzalez rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
An 11 year old boy is sent to a temple by his family to become a Buddhist priest. Living within the temple he grows up to live a very sheltered and conservative life where he is happy to be practicing his religion alone. The Head Priest then chooses him to build and start the first Buddhist Temple in Brooklyn with an American congregation who believes Buddhism is more a way of life and has very little education in the actual tenets of the religion. This is a great book. I like how it had drama b ...more
Adele Fasick
Jun 03, 2014 Adele Fasick rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I found this book by accident on the new book shelf at my public library and took it out because I needed a paperback and this story about a Japanese Buddhist priest sent to Brooklyn to start a temple sounded offbeat. It was a treasure! The main character, Seido Oda, was raised mostly in a Buddhist monastery in rural Japan. He is an artist who enjoys the peace and quiet and doesn't want to go to Brooklyn. When he arrives in the U.S. he is put off by the people who belong to the group of men and ...more
Marya Kowal
Nov 04, 2012 Marya Kowal rated it it was amazing
This novel follows a Bhuddist Priest's life from childhood to maturity, from Japan to Brooklyn, and from rote parroting of precepts to thoughtful and deeply enriching faith and devotion.

I absolutely adored this book. Rich and fully drawn, Seido Oda's journey feels more like an autobiography than a work of fiction. The detail in this story is incredible, and it's so well-written that you can spend hours reading and be surprised that so much time has passed.

Several times I found myself checking th
Jul 22, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it
A very feel-good book about a Japanese Buddhist priest being sent to Brooklyn to start up a new temple. He is naive and sheltered, and underwent a traumatic event in childhood that made him a very emotionally closed-off adult. In Brooklyn, culture clash ensues. Everything in America is strange and different to him (I love looking at America through a foreigner's eyes via literature). But he gradually merges into New York society, and gradually learns to open himself up to meaningful relationship ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened By the Moon
  • The Lankavatara Sutra: Translation and Commentary
  • This Flawless Place Between
  • Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire
  • Loquela
  • Children in Reindeer Woods
  • The Dark
  • Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis
  • Awakening the Mind, Lightening the Heart: Coe Teachings of Tibetan Buddhism
  • Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life
  • The Mountain and the Wall
  • Hollow Heart
  • Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America
  • The Bodhisattva's Brain : Buddhism Naturalized
  • The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession
  • The Canvas
  • Sangre en el ojo
  • Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer

Share This Book

“Have you noticed, to get fresh air into a house after a hard winter, you must sometimes use a little force to open the window that has for too long been sealed shut?” 6 likes
“The life of a man is like a ball in the river, the Buddhist texts state - no matter what our will wants or desires, we are swept along by an invisible current that finally delivers us to the limitless expanse of the black sea. This image rather appeals to me. It suggests there are times when we float lightly along life's surface, bobbing from one languid, long pool to another. But then, when we least expect it, we turn a river bend and find ourselves plummeting over a thundering waterfall into the churning abyss below. This I have experienced. And more.” 3 likes
More quotes…