April 3, 2010 § 8 Comments
When I picked this book from the library, I was intrigued by the latter part of the title (the part referring to Buddhist Fiction). I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really not quite sure about when religion is used to categorise fiction, like how do I know if something is Christian fiction, or if it’s just a work of fiction featuring a rather religious character? I’m just never too sure. And this title caught my attention, because for me, it’s even more difficult to tell what Buddhist fiction might be like, because Buddhism seems to me to be a rather subdued, quiet sort of belief. And I was curious to see if Buddhist fiction would reflect that same quietness, almost zen-like quality.
March 6, 2010 § 10 Comments
I bring this book home from the library, take it out of the bag and hold it in both hands. I love this book already. The type is exquisite, the size of the book just right, the thickness of it sitting nicely in my palms. How beautiful the book looks, and yet how ordinary it is: no pictures of unexpected lovers holding hands, no sketches or drawings of would-be characters. Just subtle colours on black. Ordinary. Beautiful.
December 29, 2009 § 3 Comments
What is carved on rocks will wear away in time,
What is told from mouth to mouth will live forever.
This book is really just a collection of tales told from generation to generation. Spagnoli travelled extensively through most of Asia, going past paddy fields and hunting storytellers down, no thanks to signs in languages she does not understand, and bus drivers who turn around to ask their passengers the directions to their supposed destination. It is not easy task, she tells us, to find tellers these days.
After introducing us to herself and how she went about collecting these tales, she then goes on to introduce, in little segments and paragraphs, the tellers she met along the way. Why did they choose to tell stories, in today’s day and age? How important is story-telling to them and their community? Some stories are told in the local dialect to instill pride in those who listen; some are told to remind us of the importance of faith and the spiritual.