Set on the coast of Maine and in the high desert of New Mexico, Buddhism for Western Children is a universal and timeless story of a boy who must escape subjugation, tell his story, and reclaim his soul.
In search of community and transcendence, ten-year-old Daniel’s family is swept into the thrall of a potent and manipulative guru. To his followers, Avadhoot Master King Ivanovich is a living god, a charismatic leader who may reveal enlightenment as he mesmerizes, and alchemizes, Eastern and Western spiritual traditions.
Daniel’s family plunges into a world with different rules and rhythms—and with no apparent exit. They join other devotees in shunning the outside world, and fall under the absolutist authority of the guru and his lieutenants. Daniel bears witness to the relentless competition for the guru’s favor, even as he begins to recognize the perversion of his spirituality. Soon, Daniel himself is chosen to play a role. As tensions simmer and roil, darkness intrudes. Devotees overstep, placing even the children in jeopardy. Daniel struggles with conflicting desires to resist and to belong, until finally he must decide who to save and who to abandon.
“An incisive look at what it means to be a child dragged along in the undercurrent of one’s parents’ fervor for enlightenment and willful turning away from the outside world. This is a beautifully written and poetic meditation on power, absurdity, community, and manipulation, and how one survives when all things collide in a powerful and threatening way.”—Brian Evenson
Kirstin Allio is the author of Clothed, Female Figure and Garner, which was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize for first fiction. Her honors include the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award and a PEN/O. Henry Prize. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
Nadja Spiegelman the author of I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This. She is the co-editor of Resist!, a political magazine of comics by women, and the author of three award-winning children's comics, including "Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure." She is the online editor at The Paris Review.