Last week Andrea Miller posted a short story over on Shambhala Sun Space: “Remembering Koizumi” by Wendy Miyake. I’ve tried countless times in the past thirty minutes to try to give a one-sentence summary of this story. Each time I try, my words cannot seem to do the story justice. You just have to read it for yourself.
Miyake manages to weave Buddhist ritual and philosophy into her story both lightly and meaningfully. Her writing is colorful, funny, engaging and touching. I was delighted to read her writing, and I was even more delighted that it was Shambhala Sun Space that brought Miyake’s work to my attention.
You might not be aware, but I’ve had an ongoing criticism regarding the omission of Asian American Buddhist writers from the mainstream Buddhist media. So this was a great break in tradition. Thank you, Andrea Miller.
Over the past few months, a number of Asian American friends have approached me because they wanted to learn about Buddhism. I’ve been reluctant to respond, mostly because I’m afraid of bringing them to something that they’ll be disappointed with. Even for we-who-speak-Asian, we can feel walled off from our temples on a generational level. Reading “Remembering Koizumi,” I felt that I’d found a voice that speaks to my generation.
Miyake’s writing smoothly incorporates both Buddhism and her Asian American identity, while the stories focus on the individual. Maybe you’d classify it as “Buddhism-lite” or “Buddhist chick lit.” (The Honolulu Weekly writes, “Chick lit has finally gone local.”) But it’s something that I hope will get my Buddhist friends to feel more comfortable with their Buddhist identity, maybe explore their religion some more. Maybe even write about it.
So again, I shout my thanks to Shambhala Sun both for introducing me to this writer, and for publicizing one who’s an Asian American Buddhist. Is this change we can believe in? Only time (and print by-lines) will tell. In the meantime, I’m headed over to the Japanese American Museum to pick up a copy of Beads, Boys and the Buddha as the perfect birthday present for a friend.
(This is post #100! I can’t believe we made it this far!)