Belated Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2012 and Lunar New Year of the Dragon! I hope this post finds everyone healthy, happy, and reading something enlightening. I am excited about this year for many reasons, not the least of which is this blog. I hope to be more consistent with posts this year as well as better organize the material pertinent to Buddhist fiction. Here’s what’s coming:

To begin, I would like to welcome Chris Beal to the Buddhist Fiction Blog. She is a thoughtful writer and insightful reviewer who will be posting here about works of Buddhist fiction from time to time. Chris has provided previous comments on this blog and coined the phrase “novels of enlightenment” which I quite like. I feel so fortunate to have “met” her through our mutual interest at the intersection of Buddhism and fiction.

I am happy to have Chris’ help with posts about particular works of Buddhist fiction because this frees me up to write selfish posts. Yes, I said selfish – not selfless – on a post for a blog related to Buddhism. As I proceed with my dissertation writing and research, I will use this blog to flesh out ideas for parts of my dissertation, so many of my posts will revolve around connections between works of Buddhist fiction and different forms and aspects of Buddhism as they are currently developing (mostly in Canada and the U.S.). So this year, you could say I am being selfish with this blog, but I like to think of it as a form of concurrent activity – keeping my head in the dissertation while asking other Buddhist fiction readers to join the discussion.

To this end, I want to start a monthly series of posts under the title “Currently Reading . . .” Either Chris or I will be writing these posts, since we both enjoy reading Buddhist fiction and want to extend the discussion to all readers of this blog and other readers of Buddhist fiction. These posts will include novels from the last two decades or so, but they will not be book reviews per se. Rather, they may provide a short summary or the publisher’s review of the work and then ask questions about the novel that are most important to this blog, including, but not limited to: “what is ‘Buddhist’ about this novel?” I will try to post announcements about upcoming “Currently Reading” posts a few weeks beforehand so that anyone who has read or who wishes to read the material can join in on the discussion. Once this gets going, I hope to get the occasional author involved in the discussion as well. And of course, “Currently Reading” will be an archive category so that you can find all of these types of posts.

Another category of posts coming to this blog will be entitled “Announcing New Buddhist Fiction.” I have had some very kind requests from authors to review their novels on this blog. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to do this while I am still in the midst of my dissertation process. What I am willing to do, however, is announce recently published works of Buddhist. If you are an author who has recently published a novel of Buddhist fiction (i.e. within the last 6 months of your request), I will gladly announce the publication if you provide all the pertinent ISBN information along with a quick write-up about your work.

Lastly, I will be using this blog to ask for participation in my research under the post title “Research Participation Request“. I am still working on the set up for this, but as my fieldwork travel comes to an end, I am turning to the internet for different perspectives. During my multi-sited fieldwork travels I have spoken with so many wonderful people who have graciously given me their time and opinions about Buddhist fiction, however, most of the participants had not heard of Buddhist fiction or even considered that Buddhism might be intersecting with fiction in the West. Once my fieldwork travel comes to an end in February 2012, I hope to convince a few people who actually read Buddhist fiction to participate in my research. So you are forewarned – pleas for participation are coming your way. I promise that the pleas won’t become overbearing or take over the blog, and if anyone wishes to help me by participating, everything will be done confidentially (i.e. not on this blog).

So that’s what to expect from the Buddhist Fiction Blog in 2012. I will leave you with some beautiful words from Lao Tzu: “There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take one with heart.”

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