The Buddhist Fiction Blog was created to connect with other readers of “Buddhist Fiction” and, hopefully, serve as a space for sharing thoughts about books and short stories of Buddhist fiction, or even about the very idea that a grouping of popular fiction novels and short stories can be labeled Buddhist Fiction.
This blog was created by me, Kimberly Beek. I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Religious Studies Department at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I study Buddhism as it is developing in Canada and the United States. I am also an avid reader of fiction, so when I stumbled onto contemporary novels and short stories that had major Buddhist characters, themes and plots, I wondered why such works were beginning to appear on the North American English publishing scene at this point in time. I ran across the term “Buddhist Fiction” in book reviews for several different novels I had read, and recognized that perhaps this labeling indicated the emergence of a new genre of popular literature, (or more precisely a new sub-genre), that reflects and inflects the growth and development of Buddhism in the English speaking and reading world.
“Buddhist Fiction” has become the locus of my dissertation project – I examine and study the emergence of these novels and short stories that have been labeled Buddhist Fiction by “literati”: publishers, reviewers, readers, bloggers, and authors (i.e. I make a conscious effort to refrain from personally categorizing or labeling any literary work mentioned in this blog as belonging to a sub-genre called “Buddhist Fiction”). Aside from the challenges of researching and writing a dissertation about the intersection of contemporary Buddhism and literature, I still enjoy reading novels and short works of fiction that tell stories of engaging characters caught up in samsara. These works combine some of the best and most entertaining elements of Western fiction writing with many Buddhist narrative motifs.
Chris Beal — Contributing Editor
Chris Beal lived in Japan for two years when she was young and studied two types of Buddhism there – Zen and Jodo Shin. She has an MA in English and taught English at the college level for a decade and a half. She now devotes herself to writing about the spiritual journey, and, in her spare time, reading novels about characters on such journeys – especially, but not exclusively, if they take place in Japan. She has recently completed her own novel, The Flesh of Enlightenment.