Book Review: Buddhaland Brooklyn

This is something new.

I recently was asked to review Richard C. Morais’ Buddhaland Brooklyn book, published by Alma Books Ltd. Being a Buddhist myself, I thought this book would impress me from the beginning.

However, I am usually more used to reading non-fictional rather than fiction books, so I had to take a few details out of my considerations when judging the book. Even if true, I wouldn’t like to hear that a monk is drinking, liaising with a woman in a sexual way and smoking. Of course I am not oblivious to it, but when reading stories about monks I’d like to see the picture I have of monks in my imagination. But maybe that is just me 🙁 But never mind, once I got used to it, I started to enjoy the book.

buddhaland-brooklyn

From the beginning until about page 70 (out of 270), I found that the book is slow going to set the scene. Whilst it was very detailed written, it could have been a bit more lively and interestingly put together. What I mean by that is that I read a few pages and really enjoyed the details and vividly written description of what’s happening and then read a few pages which I thought were dragging along a bit. Only after about 1/3 of the book I really got into the whole story. The story then picked up pace when he spoke about his friendship with the main monk and was shipped to New York to build a temple and Buddhist community. The first few weeks in New York were exciting and his experiences were quite well described. The story was enjoyable to read until we got to about 2/3 of the book.

Once the monk settled in Brooklyn and started to see life for what it is, began to liaise with a woman and had every day problems with the builders and the government etc., the story lost pace for me. Maybe that is because it analysed the US culture and system which I cannot relate to. I would even go as far as to say that the end of the book came down to a spiralling on and off journey where the author didn’t quite know how to finish it, so that the actual ending, which I don’t want to disclose here, just didn’t cut it for me. Sorry.

Overall a nice little read, a nice enough story to consider taking on holidays but not really a page turner. The idea of having this monk leaving Japan and going to the USA to build a temple is great but I missed the heroic and in depth leadership of a real monk versus the ‘story monk’ which might of course be more the true nature of what would actually happen. Nevertheless, for someone not being a Buddhist and would like an entertaining story which relates to Buddhism and the challenges of the US culture and society, definitely worth a read.

I hope you enjoyed my first book review on my blog and maybe there might be more to come.

Volker