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Buddhaland Brooklyn: A Novel
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Buddhaland Brooklyn: A Novel

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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  759 Ratings  ·  132 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 Brookl ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Scribner (first published July 1st 2012)
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Aimee
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
J.
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rachel
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
'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
...more
Julia
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


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
...more
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/
...more
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
...more
Linda
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Correen
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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.
Robyn
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tariq Khan
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About a boy who grows up involuntarily in a Buddhist monastery in Japan at the behest of his parents, who die shortly arriving at the temple. As an older man he is again involuntarily shipped off to America to build a Temple in Brooklyn, NY. He wants nothing but to leave because these Buddhist-loving bohemian Americans do nothing but soil the purity of the faith that has sustained him. These Americans understand nothing about Buddhism, cannot sit properly, are rude, chant the Lotus Sutra complet ...more
Lori
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This has been on my shelf for months, apparently patiently waiting for the right time to be read. By the author of the 100 Foot Journey (which I read AND saw - the movie that is), this slender book is profoundly enlightening, rather like an epic haiku. You will find humor, truth, faith, tragedy, and humanity. Other reviewers are far more adept at describing the story so I will just sum up by saying this is on the top of my list for this year (though it is a 2012 publication). The Reverend Oda wi ...more
Snap
There are some fine reviews of this book so I am not going to get carried away! I loved this book. I laughed. I cried. I enjoyed reading about introverted Oda moving to Brooklyn to start a Buddhist temple. Talk about a fish out of water! May we all find our tranquil light.....
Lisa Rider
Well written and interesting, but storyline was weak.
David
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enlightenment

It's not the words that are important, it is how they resonate with the chord of the heart that makes a good read. This is good.
Shelley
A sweet tale of a Buddhist monk who must leave the contemplative life in Japan and oversee a new temple in Brooklyn,NY. It reminds us that first impressions are often incorrect. But I was put off by the stupidity of the New Yorkers. Who greets a Buddhist monk getting of an airplane with a big hug and inappropriate words. The point is to show how these people are or become more spiritual but nobody joins a religious sect and says that they made more money after becoming a Buddhist (so they think ...more
Lisa
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can't decide between 3.5 or 4, I liked the writing and story overall but the main character really grated on my nerves more often than I'd like. I honestly thought there would be more wisdom folded into the story. I did appreciate the humor sprinkled throughout, it actually made me laugh out loud more than once. I liked this book enough to finish, but I didn't love it. Overall, I am glad I read it.
Tripfiction
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
Heather
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Anne
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Janel
Feb 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Judith
Aug 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Vera Marie
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sophie Gonzales
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jim
Jan 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Peter
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Erika Sajdak
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Joanna Brauckmann
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
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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?” 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.” 5 likes
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