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Buddhaland Brooklyn

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  467 ratings  ·  95 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.
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 Brooklyn, N
...more
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Scribner (first published July 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,032)
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Jason
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
Aimee
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
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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
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Rachel
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
Julia


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
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Connie
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/
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Vishvapani
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
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Correen

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.
Judith
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
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Peter
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
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Nelda Brangwin
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
Janel
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
Jim
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
Adele Fasick
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
Monica
Seida Oda is a boy in a mountain village in Japan who - somewhat against his will - at age 11 is sent to a Buddhist monastery to be trained as a priest. His life for the next 30 years is painting, and poetry and of course prayer, and he is not particularly socially adept and is a bit of an outsider among the monks.

He is asked to leave this idyll and go to Brooklyn NY to oversee the Buddhist community and the building of their first NY temple.

This is Richard Morais' second novel and lives up to
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Natalie Williams
This book is pure imagination. I've no idea how the author plucked a tale like this one out of his brain to set down on the page, but I'm glad he did.
In many ways, it's a story about stagnation and growth, losing and finding, confusion and understanding. I'm not going to tell you the plot line or the characters as I can see many have done so before me and I hate spoilers.
I will tell you that if you're feeling a bit down on the human race, this book might help you feel a little better about us in
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Chris Bull
A clash of East & West. The buddhist priest coming from a contemplative life removed from temple politics is thrown into the midst of a building project in New York.
Any group attempting to get along with each other creates stress. Handling it is the problem. Things do work out as their are a number of strong leaders.
What strikes me as odd is that there are no Japanese-American adherents. Everyone is Caucasian. In most cases of temples being established, esp in N.A. it is the ethnic members
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Heather
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
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Sophie Gonzales
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
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Vera Marie
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
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Tripfiction
“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
Anne
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
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Erika Sajdak
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
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Jennifer H
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
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Marisa Gonzalez
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
Sally
Take one Buddhist monk from a wonderfully tranquil Japanese monastery and "promote" him to an as yet unbuilt Buddhist temple in NYC, then stand back and watch what happens. The Japan of his first 40 years is wonderfully well drawn, as is his bewilderment at this strange country with their weird and wonderful ways. There is, of course, more than one way to enlightenment . . .
Marilyn
I liked this book more after I finished it then as I was reading it. I loved the way the central character learned abaout himself by misreading others so throughly. It was also a good cross-cultural conundrum of how mixed up we can be. the culture here is not only Japan and Brooklyn but between generations too.
Marya Kowal
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
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Katie
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
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“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?” 4 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.” 2 likes
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