Review: Buddhaland Brooklyn by Richard C. Morais

Buddhaland Brooklyn
by Richard C. Morais
Published by Scribner (US) and Alma Books (UK in April 2013)
Reviewed by Jessica Patient

Buddhaland Brooklyn is a beautifully written novel about searching for the truth across clashing cultures. Morais’ second novel charts the life of a Buddhist priest, Seido Oda. He goes from an idyllic lifestyle in a mountainside monastery in Japan where he devotes himself to painting, poetry and praying and is forced into moving to bustling America to oversee the building of a temple in the heart of New York.

“Castor Street was crafted out of a disorienting mix-and-match of cultures, and I thought, Brooklyn is not solid. It is unstable. …But I did not really understand this at the time, this link “unstable” Brooklyn and myself. Such wisdom only came later.” 

Morais successfully creates Oda as a complex and interesting character to show us an entertaining tale of human growth – spiritually and physically. As well has having to deal with the journey of moving from peacefully Japan to the city ‘that never sleeps’ he has to go on a journey of self-discovery to deal with his inner turmoil. Throughout the novel, the reader watches as Oda must learn to let go of his painful past – all of his family dying in a house fire and realise that there is a world outside the worlds of his isolated monastery.

A Growing Sense of Entitlement

Reader Logo by Emily Lewis

Most of the lucky breaks in my life have come as a result of being in the right place when someone else was in a hard one.

This particular instance, that place was in the promotional office of the university where I worked, when the head of the writing department walked through the door and declared they’d just lost their writing professor.

“You write don’t you, Emily?” he asked, a keen look at me.

“That’s what you hired me for,” I said, already feeling it would be short-lived. At my previous job I’d been hired to edit copy and ended up filming a documentary, A Literary Tour of England. Me: Right place. Film crew: Shorthanded. See a pattern?

Pan Zador Interview

Hard-headed and cynical writer of literary fiction, Frances Kay, interviews that elusive goddess of theatre, Pan Zador
Artwork by Bradley Wind

FK: Your new novel, 'Act of Love', is set in a theatre somewhere off the east coast of England in a town called Brancaster. A real place?

PZ: As real as any fictional location. Call it a blending of realities.

FK: Talking reality -you say you've been active in theatre all your life, as a performer, director and playwright. How then is it when I Google you, I find nothing?

PZ: My dear, we are all chameleons. Is Pan my real name? Did I perform under my real name? Beneath the illusion, you will find a kernel of truth. Every word I say about myself is true, but I play many characters, and they each have their own name.

Chapter One

Guest Article by
Michael J. Kannengieser

The moniker all writers wish they could have applied to them is published author. In my case, reaching this goal was a long time coming – almost fifteen years. From writing in a vacuum with no venue for publication, to maintaining a busy blog, to working as editor for fiction at The View from Here, to finally signing a contract with a publisher, the road to seeing my work in print has been a long time coming.

“The Tin Age” was my first book-length manuscript and I was proud of my accomplishment. Immediately, I sent query letters to literary agents around the country. Weeks passed after my first flurry of letters went out. A trickle of responses came to my mailbox; many had formal rejection letters. Some agents merely scribbled “Not for us,” across the top of my pages, and others offered a brief critique while declining representation.

Mind Matters of the Debut Novelist

Interview: Liz Fenwick
by Catherine McNamara

Liz Fenwick's debut novel 'The Cornish House' has been a summer hit, recently going into its third edition. Congratulations Liz, expat author who lives between Dubai, London and Cornwall, and is preparing for publication of her second novel 'A Cornish Affair'!

Liz, what has been the toughest moment on your road to publication? 

Those moments when you are so close, the rejection in your hand so glowing and they still said no…….It’s then when you bash your head against the wall and wonder what you are missing.

And the highest point so far? 

That has to be when a reader sought me out at a signing to hug me because she had loved the book so much. It was such a humbling experience.

'The Cornish House' has a gentle, involving pace, with clear and lyrical language. How easy or difficult was it for you to develop your style? I understand you've written other books in this series, how long has it taken to produce a work you felt was smooth and consistent in terms of language and plot development? 

The Cornish House was the third complete book that I’d written and it was the one where I ‘found’ my voice. I first wrote it in 2006 and rewrote each year thereafter until last year when I completed the edits. It’s listening to the book as an editing tool that I consider language. Because I’m dyslexic I find it hard to ‘see’ things on the page but my ear is finely tuned and this gives me distance from the work too.