Buddha Da

Overview

Anne Marie's dad, a Glaswegian painter and decorator, has always been game for a laugh. So when he first takes up meditation at the Buddhist Center, no one takes him seriously. But as Jimmy becomes more involved in a search for the spiritual, his beliefs start to come into conflict with the needs of his wife, Liz. Cracks appear in their apparently happy family life, and the ensuing events change the lives of each family member. Donovan completely captures these lives in her clear-eyed, evocative prose, rendered ...

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Overview

Anne Marie's dad, a Glaswegian painter and decorator, has always been game for a laugh. So when he first takes up meditation at the Buddhist Center, no one takes him seriously. But as Jimmy becomes more involved in a search for the spiritual, his beliefs start to come into conflict with the needs of his wife, Liz. Cracks appear in their apparently happy family life, and the ensuing events change the lives of each family member. Donovan completely captures these lives in her clear-eyed, evocative prose, rendered alternately in the voices of each of the main characters. With seamless grace and astonishing veracity, Buddha Da treats serious themes with humor and its characters with humanity. From prize-winning writer Anne Donovan, this stunning debut novel — shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Whitbread First Novel Award — will appeal to readers of Roddy Doyle.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
The transcribed brogue and gag-rich premise initially lend Buddha Da a slapstick feel. But as Jimmy's engagement with Buddhism deepens, the novel matures into an astute exploration of Donovan's enormously appealing characters. (The language also becomes fluently readable and clearly indispensable to the book's flavor.) Chapters rotate between the first-person narratives of Anne Marie, Jimmy and Liz, his wife, and through these three perspectives, an intimate and comprehensive family portrait emerges.—Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow
The Washington Post
Donovan shows a great deal of skill for a first novelist, developing each point of view in turn but never failing to advance her narrative. Buddha Da is most satisfying emotionally, a mature novel in which the characters resolve their problems in a believable way. They seem very human folk who, with all good intentions, get themselves into a mess. That mess is very much like life. — David Guy
Publishers Weekly
Novels from current Scottish authors are assumed not only to be full of the kind of dialect that on screen would require subtitles, but also fraught with edgy violence, rage and angst. Donovan's delightful debut domestic comedy has the dialect all right (though it's very easy to follow after the first few pages) and a few darker undertones, but is essentially sunny and engaging. Jimmy is a Glasgow house painter, a genial giant of a man who seems happy in his marriage to Liz and in his musical teenage daughter, Anne Marie. But he yearns for something beyond the quotidian and finds it in the local Buddhist center, where he is soon spending much too much of his time, in the view of his wife and daughter, learning to meditate and hanging out with the "lamas." Soon he is separated from his family, while Anne Marie becomes involved with a Pakistani school friend in an all-absorbing music contest, and Liz falls into a flirtation that leads to a family crisis. Donovan's sense of the intimacies and pleasures of these small lives is acute; her ear for their talk, alternately tough and tender, is sharp; and she manages to make her little family at once likable and intensely vulnerable. American readers may be astonished to find how much, especially in terms of popular culture, they have in common with contemporary Glaswegians. (Apr.) Forecast: This may seem at first like a hard sell, but its very engaging characters and the universal nature of its family drama should please anyone in search of an absorbing and touching read. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award, a tenderly funny and unpretentiously philosophical portrait of a Glasgow family in turmoil. Like her compatriot Irvine Welsh, Donovan writes in Scots dialect that gives marvelous savor to her story but is quite easy to read. Unlike Welsh's junkies and outcasts, her characters are ordinary working folks leading reasonable, responsible lives--until their own yearnings and fate's whimsical ways take them in unexpected directions. Things begin to go off kilter when Jimmy, a house painter in his 30s who until now has liked his "bevvy" and a practical joke as much as anything, begins spending more and more time at the local Buddhist Centre. His 12-year-old daughter Anne Marie is surprised but willing to tolerate his new religion, but wife Liz is bewildered and increasingly annoyed; she feels left out, and his involvement in Buddhism exacerbates Jimmy's tendency to leave all the housework and responsibilities to her. When he follows up forswearing alcohol with a unilateral decision to become celibate, Liz accuses him of having an affair, and he moves out. The novel's first (and better) half delineates with accuracy and wit people's complicated reactions to change. Though not especially intellectual or well-educated, Jimmy and Liz are both thoughtful and intelligent; his descriptions of practicing meditation and her reflections while cleaning out her dead mother's house are textbook examples of an author speaking in her characters' voices without condescending to them. Anne Marie is just as appealing as her parents, and the scenes of her burgeoning friendship with an Indian classmate offer nice snapshots of multicultural Britain. As the plotthickens-Liz gets pregnant, Anne Marie enters a BBC contest with a recording that combines a Latin hymn, Tibetan chants, and her friend singing in Punjabi-the story loses some of its freshness. But its charm remains, thanks to Donovan's deft way with Scottish speech and warm affection for her protagonists. Let's hope the funny spelling doesn't keep this engaging and accessible tale from the broad readership it deserves.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780753169636
  • Publisher: ISIS Large Print Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Series: Isis Hardcover Series
  • Pages: 347
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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