I can't say enough good things about this novel. Several months ago, I was searching for answers about happiness reading books about religion, and on a clinical note, reading about depression. I ended up learning more about Buddhism after learning that a friend of mine was actually practicing the teachings themselves. Though not a religious person myself, I decided happiness was doing what felt right for the moment. Even if it meant watching some awesome martial arts movies by myself when no one else wanted to.
After joining Goodreads, the first group I joined was the Martial Arts Fiction group, and unbeknownst to me, was moderated by the author Goran Powell. After thoughtlessly picking his brain for a good martial arts book to read, Goran humbly suggested his own book.
Not aware of what the novel was about, I was bemused to read a work of fiction from Goran, but I was not prepared for what I was actually getting myself in to.
First of all this book is so animated with a wonderful blend of narrative and dialogue. The characters are so vivid. The description of scenes, thoughts, and ideas are so beautifully interpreted. At times heartbreaking, other times laugh-out-loud witty. The relationships between the characters, and characters against and with their environment are real enough to relate to and imagine while reading.
But the most important, and probably most beautiful, were the life lessons and ideologies of Buddhism throughout the book, at a time when I most needed it, and didn't even realize it. I learned so much about the simple pleasures in life and why we are here, and if we should even question it. Throughout the journey, everything Da Mo said and did made so much sense to me, and I felt myself putting it to thought in my daily life during the moments when I had to put the book down.
I didn't expect a teacher to come along in the form of a novel, but it did, and I am very grateful for this. In fact, what better way to learn about such ideas when reading a beautiful novel based on true events?
If Zen was ever to be achieved while reading fiction, then this would be The Way.
(Thank you, Goran, for writing this, and recommending it to me. The timing was perfect.)