“We, like Otto, find our cynicism worn away by Rinpoche’s gentle instruction in the simple but terribly difficult art of letting go, living each moment to the fullest, seeing the sacred in the everyday . . . This brave, meditative author has carved a unique niche in American literature.” —Kirkus Reviews starred review If life is a journey--with detours, paths from which to choose, and myriad roadblocks to overcome--then Otto Ringling is most certainly on the journey of a lifetime. The first fifty or so years of his journey were pretty good. He felt that he had it all, until one day he didn’t. Looking for answers, he calls on his brother-in-law, Volya Rinpoche, a wise man and spiritual leader. A man who accepts the world as it comes to him; a man without pride or vanity. Someone who, as it turns out, is experiencing his own time of doubt. So, in hopes of finding answers to life’s mysteries, the two embark on a journey through America, a road trip that becomes a lesson in love and gratitude. “Merullo offers keen insight into and intelligent assessments of modern American life, but it is his compassionate portrait of a grieving Otto in search of inner tranquility that is most affecting.” —Booklist “Otto is such a full human, which is why we can empathize with his questions and immerse ourselves in his experiences. In the end, we are all humanized by the spiritual journey of Dinner with Buddha.” —Spirituality and Practice “Merullo masterfully depicts the struggles of practicing mindfulness moment by moment . . . [The] novel is full of nuanced, thoughtful prose and is an immensely satisfying conclusion to the series.” —Publishers Weekly
When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he'd planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger—and amuse himself—he decides to show the monk some "American fun" along the way. From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley field to his family farm near Bismarck, Otto is given the remarkable opportunity to see his world—and more important, his life—through someone else's eyes. Gradually, skepticism yields to amazement as he realizes that his companion might just be the real thing. In Roland Merullo's masterful hands, Otto tells his story with all the wonder, bemusement, and wry humor of a man who unwittingly finds what he's missing in the most unexpected place.
Get an inside look at Algonquin’s outstanding forthcoming fiction with the Spring 2015 Algonquin Reader. Discover the inspiration behind each book through an original essay by the author. Then enjoy a preview of each novel. The Miracle Girl by Andrew Roe On Sale April 21, 2015 “To believe or not to believe--that is the question facing all who are touched by the comatose ‘miracle girl’ at the swirling center of Roe’s dazzling debut. But more than an exploration of the mysteries of faith, it’s also the unforgettable story of one family’s struggle against tragedy. The result is an uplifting miracle of a book.” —Will Allison, author of Long Drive Home The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor On Sale May 5, 2015 “Hypnotically readable--I absolutely couldn’t put it down. The structure is brilliant, and I turned the pages with increasing dread. This book is terrific.” —Stephen King Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian On Sale April 7, 2015 “Aline Ohanesian draws from her family’s own dark history to create a tender, powerful story of love and reclamation. A breathtaking and expansive work of historical fiction and proof that the past can sometimes rewrite the future.” —Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train The Wisdom of Perversity by Rafael Yglesias On Sale March 24, 2015 “The sly courage, the deft intelligence, and the fierceness of vision that we, his fans, have come to expect from a Raphael Yglesias novel all blaze brightly forth—and cast very dark shadows—in The Wisdom of Perversity.” —Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Dinner with Buddha by Roland Merullo On Sale June 2, 2015 Algonquin’s long-awaited follow-up to the bestselling Breakfast with Buddha finds Otto Ringling and Mongolian monk Volya Rinpoche on another unexpected road trip of discovery. Cover art by Melinda Beck
Dana Vinicoff has wandered through many religious groups, including Campus Crusade for Christ, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, a Catholic Charismatic prayer meeting, and Transcendental Meditation. Over the years, starting in the 1970's, she wrote the pieces gathered in these pages -- to explore and express her experiences and beliefs. The writings include stories of her religious wanderings, prayers, and sermons leavened with humor. "These ideas will surely help seekers on their own path of growth. You did good!" wrote Janell Moon, author of How to Pray Without Being Religious, and Stirring the Waters: Writing to Find Your Spirit. Andrew Ramer, author of Queering the Text and Torah Told Different, wrote of Tales of a Seeker: "I was moved by your stories and felt supported by your journey and where it got you to, and I know others will too, so thank you for a timely read, a reflecting mirror for many of my own questions."
What happens when the Pope and the Dalai Lama decide they need a secret vacation? Roland Merullo’s playful, eloquent, and life-affirming novel finds the world’s two holiest men teaming up for an unsanctioned road trip through the Italian countryside--where they rediscover the everyday joys and challenges of ordinary life. During the Dalai Lama’s highly publicized official visit to the Vatican, the Pope suggests an adventure so unexpected and appealing that neither man can resist: they will shed their robes for several days and live as ordinary men. Before dawn, the two beloved religious leaders make a daring escape from Vatican City, slip into a waiting car, and are soon traveling the Italian roads in disguise. Along for the ride is the Pope’s neurotic cousin and personal assistant, Paolo, who--to his terror-- has been put in charge of arranging the details of their disappearance. Rounding out the group is Paolo’s estranged wife, Rosa, an eccentric entrepreneur with a lust for life, who orchestrates the sublime disguises of each man. Rosa is a woman who cannot resist the call to adventure--or the fun. Against a landscape of good humor, intrigue, and spiritual fulfillment, The Delight of Being Ordinary showcases the uniquely charming sensibilities of author Roland Merullo. Part whimsical expedition, part love story, part spiritual search, this uplifting novel brings warmth and laughter to the universal concerns of family life, religious inspiration, and personal identity—all of which combine to transcend cultural and political barriers in the name of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Rinpoche's Remarkable Ten-Week Weight Loss Clinic brings back two main characters from Roland Merullo's beloved Buddha Trilogy (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner with Buddha). This time, though, instead of cruising the American road together, Otto Ringling and Volya Rinpoche are part of the famous meditation master's offbeat weight loss clinic, held over the course of ten Saturdays in a New York City yoga studio. "These characters have been alive in my imagination for a decade now," Merullo says, "and I just had the sense that Rinpoche, out of his deep compassion, would try to do something about America's obesity epidemic. I've also been fascinated for a long time by the way addiction works--whether it's addiction to food, drugs, alcohol, sex, work, or anything else--the way it occupies the mind and moves us to do things we know we would be better off not doing. I've always wondered what advice Rinpoche would give on the subject."Known--across twenty books, scores of essays, and twenty-five years of publishing--for being willing to try his hand at an unusually wide variety of themes, subjects, and genres, here Merullo works for the first time in the novella form, putting together a deft, moving, and tightly compressed tale that includes his trademark mix of spiritual inquiry and ordinary human emotions. "This story is about the challenge of losing weight, yes," the author says, "but there's a twist to it at the end, and that opens into a wider territory. I tried to approach it with a full appreciation for the difficulty of breaking old habits, and I gave up a beloved food myself for ten weeks, just to keep things honest."While it does not promise to help readers with their troublesome eating habits or other addictions, Rinpoche's Remarkable Ten-Week Weight Loss Clinic does look at those painful issues from a fresh angle, one full of sympathy and wisdom. It will certainly please lovers of the Buddha Trilogy, and perhaps bring new fans to the hundreds of thousands who've already enjoyed the travels and conversations of Otto and his enlightened teacher.
What if Jesus suddenly appeared and announced that he planned to run for President of the United States? Yes, that Jesus. And what if a well-meaning but utterly inexperienced band of disciples not only helped him mount a seat-of-the-pants campaign but also ran it well, getting millions of people to support him and in the process throwing the other two major party candidates—as well as the world's news media—into a frenzy as they scramble to discredit him? Roland Merullo's bitingly clever satirical novel about the state of American politics follows one man's campaign to bring back goodness and kindness (real goodness and kindness this time) in a country that has fallen into a divisive state of fear and hatred. Merullo takes us into the heart of "a nation in grave spiritual danger" as the Son of man sets out to make everyone realize that "politics as usual" is no longer an acceptable alternative. American Savior is a remarkably innovative novel that challenges our perceptions and beliefs while it wags a finger at the folly of our self-righteousness. It is sure to cause controversy among those for whom politics itself has become a kind of religion.
This witty tale is an “engaging story of golf, the after-life and ‘the spiritual education of one soul’” (Publishers Weekly). Herman “Hank” Fins-Winston was a professional golfer destined for greatness. Now he lives in a condominium on the thirteenth fairway of one of heaven’s glorious courses—a fact he finds surprising, since for one reason or another, a fair percentage of golfers never make it to paradise . . . and Hank wasn’t exactly an angel on earth. Hank is having the time of his afterlife, until he’s summoned one idyllic morning to play a round with the Almighty. It seems that God is having some trouble with putting. As they play the heavenly courses, both in paradise and back on earth, Hank comes to realize that what began as a golf lesson has become a true spiritual journey . . . “Merullo, author of the critically acclaimed Revere Beach trilogy, writes with wit and subtlety rather than trying to pound inspiration into our heads with a titanium driver. And, best of all, he gets the golf right: precise, well-constructed descriptions of courses and shot making, revealing a respect for the game itself, not just its potential as metaphor.” —Booklist
If the Buddha came to dinner at your home, what would you serve? Fast food? A frozen meal quickly reheated in the microwave? Chances are you'd feed your honored guest a delicious meal prepared with love and care. But the next time you have dinner, what will you eat? With so much processed food in the marketplace, obesity in adults and children dramatically on the rise, and digestive problems increasingly more common, it's clear that we're facing a serious food crisis in this country. The answer, however, isn't just to go on a diet. Reducing the intake of refined and processed foods and increasing whole foods certainly can improve one's health. But we need more. We need to feed ourselves with a sense of purpose, self-respect, love, and passion for our lives. We need to nourish our spirits. Nourishment isn't a fad diet . . . it's a lifelong journey, and Halé Sofia Schatz is the ideal guide. Gentle, wise, and humorous, she shows us the way to the heart of nourishment--our own inner wisdom that knows exactly how to feed our whole self. A perfect blend of inspiration and practical suggestions, If the Buddha Came to Dinner includes guidelines for selecting vital foods, ideas for keeping your energy balanced throughout the day, a cleanse program, and over 60 recipes to awaken your palate. Open this book and nurture yourself as never before. You'll be fed in a whole new way.