Nixon Under the Bodhi Tree and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction - Praise



288 pages, 6 x 9 inches


ISBN 9780861713547

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“[You’ll] relish the beauty of these well-told tales. Wheeler has assembled a stellar collection, one that fans of fiction and Buddhism hope for—full of play, insight, revelation, and diversity, and never compromising in delight.”—Publishers Weekly

“This marvelous collection of nearly 30 specimens of Buddhist fiction shows not only the promise of a genre that is scarcely known as such, but what has already been accomplished by the small but growing band of writers melding the truth of dharma with the invention of fiction. From German filmmaker-novelist Doris Dorrie’s unflinching depiction of the ‘sheer torture’ of meditation to an excerpt from Keith Kachtick’s remarkable 2003 novel ‘Hungry Ghost’, and from works shorter than a page to stories that run several thousand words, the pieces here explore the mundane and the metaphysical with cold eyes and warm hearts. Together, they comprise a captivating view of the landscape of mindfulness.”—Yoga Journal

“Even before its publication, ‘Nixon’ created a buzz: something is definitely in the air.”—Dharma Life

“A milestone in Buddhist fiction. . . . Vigilant readers may have noticed a growing number of novels with Buddhist themes, but you wont see a Buddhist fiction shelf in bookstores. It’s out there, but it hasn’t been easy to find. Until now. In Nixon Under the Bodhi Tree, Kate Wheeler has assembled a marvelous collection of stories, inspired, in one way or another, by Buddhism. They range in length from a few lines to several thousand words, and cover topics as diverse as driving, acting, politics, food, birth, rebirth, love, death, murder, suicide, animal adoption, and lawn mowing. Certain themes emerge—we meet monks and nuns and earnest and not-so-earnest meditators—but there are plenty of surprises. As novelist and scholar Charles Johnson writes in his elegant foreword, these stories succeed because they ‘dramatize the dharma by taking us intimately into the loves of their characters,’ and show us ‘how the Buddhist experience is simply the human experience.’ This volume is surely a milestone in Western Buddhist literature—and a book that fiction lovers, Buddhist or otherwise will very much enjoy.”—Tricycle

“An embarrassment of literary riches: inventive, imaginative, and intellectually stimulating. Because of such attention to craft, to character and event, the writers collected in this one-of-a-kind book not only succeed as literary art but show us, time and again, that the transcendent can be found in the pedestrian, ordinary texture of our daily lives and doings. For myself, I can only say that I’ve waited all my life for a book like this. I feel grateful for it. And I believe you will feel the same way, too.”—from the foreword by Charles Johnson, National Book Award-winning author of Middle Passage and Turning the Wheel: Essays on Buddhism and Writing

“The stories in Kate Wheeler’s anthology possess that essential combination of pathos and humor that constitutes great works of literature. With brave and original voices, these writers have produced some of the best Buddhist-themed fiction to come around since the likes of Kerouac and Salinger.”—Paul W. Morris, editor of

“Poetry & painting yes, but Buddhist fiction? Well, the Chinese and Japanese have been at it for centuries. Now Kate Wheeler has provided a collection of Western-style short stories, homegrown and full of vernacular salt. You’ll want to keep this on the shelf with Kerouac.”—Andrew Schelling, Naropa University, author of Wild Form, Savage Grammar

“This fine collection of stories introduces a strikingly diverse range of voices who tell their tales with warmth and wit. I enjoyed it very much.”—Stephen Batchelor, author of Buddhism without Beliefs.

"The twenty-nine short stories stimulate the reader to consider the multifarious paths to the awakened mind. All of them address classic Buddhist concepts, yet do so in the most contemporary of ways, [raising] awareness of how Buddhist practice and interpretation are experienced in the West. [Wheeler’s] personal and professional experience infuses the collection with both breadth and depth.”—ForeWord 

“An extraordinary collection. These beautifully crafted stories are poignant, ironic, compassionate and inspiring. They are a testimony to the ability of the literary imagination to provide glimpses of the mystical dimension of everyday life and the thusness of existence. They illuminate the beauty, frailty and yearning of the human soul.”—Jeremy D. Safran, Editor of Psychoanalysis and Buddhism

“From Zipolite, Mexico to Kyoto, Japan to Rangoon, Burma, in Nixon Under the Bodhi Tree the drama in the dharma shines through like a solar flarestorm at sunrise.”—Mark Brady, winner of the Jack London Prize for fiction

“The first anthology of a budding genre: Buddhist fiction. Some of the short stories here are autobiographical; others play off the travelogue idiom and portray— with some interesting twists— spiritual seekers in distrant lands. More often they take place in everyday America: an urban stoop, the beach, a job interview. The stories here are diverse, and intriguing.”—Buddhadharma

“How could you resist a book with the title Nixon Under the Bodhi Tree, and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction?’ Of course, you may regard ‘Buddhist fiction’ as a redundancy, because isn’t it all fiction? That aside, this book is a feast for the mind and heart. The book’s editor, Kate Wheeler, has put together a fine collection of stories by and about Buddhists, who turn out to be (shocking!) people who flirt, connive, get high and do ordinary things that get them into ordinary trouble, just like you and me. Like the dharma itself, fiction can help reveal us to ourselves and affirm our common humanity, and this book does just that. I suggest that you sit down soon with Nixon Under the Bodhi Tree, find some nuggets of wisdom, and have yourself a real good time.”—Wes Nisker, author of The Essential Crazy Wisdom and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Inquiring Mind

“This strange and startling anthology is a welcome effort. There are many moments of beauty in these stories. Whether you are a Buddhist practitioner or just a fiction lover, you’ll want to read them with pen in hand, underlining an effective phrase or flash of literary insight. A significant debut collection.”—Shambhala Sun

“Kate Wheeler is one of my favorite writers, and now I see what a good editor she is too. I love the concept of Nixon Under the Bodhi Tree, and found so many of the pieces surprising, intriguing, and even mind-opening.”—Sandy Boucher, author of Dancing in the Dharma and Discovering Kwan Yin

“Wheeler’s collection is best-of-breed not only because it’s first-of-breed but also because almost every selection is a gem, thanks to pitch-perfect editing. Each of the 30 original fiction works offers riveting glimpses of the sky through the red dust. Wheeler’s introduction itself is a compelling piece of Buddhist-inspired prose... The special delight of this anthology [is that] every spot where you dip your toe is different, and there is no one party line. Every time you return to it, you find you've overlooked something interesting.”—Turning Wheel