Looking for (mostly fairly light) fiction with Buddhist characters
September 25, 2022 6:29 PM   Subscribe

I recently read Susan Juby's delightful novel, Mindful of Murder, which is a murder mystery, whose main character, Helen, is a former Buddhist nun who has just graduated from a school for butlers when the story begins. (I know, that sounds preposterous.) I love Helen, her equanimity, her openheartedness, her interactions with other wonderfully drawn characters in the course of the story. So I am interested in finding more fiction with specifically Buddhist characters like Helen. Can you help? Preferably fairly light reading, such as mystery or other genres.
posted by metonym to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Ruth Ozeki is a Buddhist priest and novelist. I’ve only read her novel A Tale for the Time Being, and it does include a character who is a Buddhist nun. Much of the novel consists of diary entries by a Japanese schoolgirl, and the nun is her beloved grandmother.
posted by FencingGal at 6:44 PM on September 25, 2022 [6 favorites]

I was coming in to recommend A Tale for the Time Being, such a fantastic book. Though I was slightly hesitant because it does get pretty sad.
posted by imalaowai at 6:47 PM on September 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

Perhaps the Bhodi King mysteries by Mellissa F Miller.
The Maisie Dobbs series has some of that vibe.
In the Fantasy genre, A Psalm For the Wild by Becky Chambers might scratch your itch.
posted by Enid Lareg at 8:39 PM on September 25, 2022

Tea With the Black Dragon! It's a good romp.
posted by inexorably_forward at 8:59 PM on September 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

The Sonchai Jitpleecheep series by John Burdett is noir set mostly in Thailand. Sonchai is a cop who practices Buddhism and its ideas help structure his thinking and investigations. Bangkok 8 is the 1st book.
posted by kingless at 5:45 AM on September 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

It's a long time since I read it so I can't remember how closely it fits your requirements, but Buddha Da is about a working class Glasgow man who discovers Buddhism. I just can't remember how much he actually embodies the qualities you're after. But worth a look.

IIRC it is written in west coast Scots dialect so YMMV how easily you find it to tune into.
posted by penguin pie at 5:54 AM on September 26, 2022

The First Rule of Ten and its four sequels are mysteries featuring a California private eye who is a former Tibetan monk. The books are fairly light and cozy.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:19 AM on September 26, 2022

The Maisie Dobbs series has some of that vibe.

Was coming here to suggest this. It's a long series. Maisie isn't a practicing Buddhist but she does embody some aspects of Buddhist practice and does have that openness and essential kindness that I think would appeal.
posted by jessamyn at 7:40 AM on September 26, 2022

I was coming to recommend the Bodhi King mysteries as well--he's a forensic pathologist who is a practicing Buddhist and it goes into his work solving mysteries while working on his practice.
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:23 AM on September 26, 2022

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