“A vivid portrait of faith lost and found through the eyes of a Japanese Buddhist monk in America” (Shelf Awareness) as he makes his way from an isolated monastery in Japan to the bustling streets of Brooklyn, New York.
Seido Oda spent his boyhood in a small mountainside village in rural Japan. When his parents hand him over to the monks at the nearby Buddhist monastery, he devotes himself to painting, poetry, and prayer—and avoiding human contact. But his quiet life is unexpectedly upended when he is ordered by his superior to open a temple in Brooklyn.
New York is a shock to the introverted Oda, who now must lead a ragtag army of eccentrics who make up the local Buddhist community. After tragedy strikes, Oda finally realizes his own long-buried sadness and spiritual shortcomings. It is only with newly opened eyes that Oda comes to find in Brooklyn the home he has always sought.
Morais s latest (after The Hundred-Foot Journey) follows Seido, a Japanese Buddhist priest whose attachment to ritual fortifies him against the heartbreak of his youth: days after his induction into the priesthood, at age 11, his family was killed in a fire. Years later, when he is transferred from his temple in Fukushima, Japan, to Brooklyn, he finds a congregation of American misfits starved for spiritual counsel. Jennifer, his assistant, grieves her fianc s death; Michael, a disturbed college student, lives in fear of his mother; and the temple s benefactors jockey for influence and power. But by leaving the austere orderliness of Japan and entering the noisy hodgepodge of Brooklyn, Seido finds, for the first time, a community. With patience and sacrifice, he learns to communicate his faith and rediscovers it for himself. This is a breezy read that ably moves to a predictable feel-good resolution, yet Morais often indulges in purple prose and cultural caricatures. An uncomfortable propensity to exoticize Seido whose most profound observations are expressed in Yoda-like bromides and haiku undermines the sublimity of his spiritual awakening and his fullness as a character.