Buddhist fiction isn’t nearly as plentiful as non-fiction, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some real gems to be found, and Jake Fades by David Guy is definitely one of them. Set in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Jake Fades revolves around an ageing Zen Master called Jake who has a knack for fixing bicycles and is just as comfortable talking to people in the local bar as he is when teaching meditation in a formal setting.
Jake is keen for Hank, his student of many years, to take over the teaching activities, but Hank is more than a little reluctant. Unfortunately, Hank might not have too much time to sit on the fence because Jake is beginning to show symptoms similar to those displayed by people with Alzheimer’s disease, so how much longer he will be able to teach for is a complete unknown.
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This novel is written in the first-person from Hank’s perspective, and although we would rather not give you too many details about the plot itself, we can tell you that it is captivating from start to finish. Although we classify it here as a Buddhist novel because it is written by a Buddhist and features Buddhist lead characters, Jakes Fades is a book that would be appreciated by anyone who enjoys a good story that isn’t afraid to portray life as it really is.
Hank himself is a flawed character. He is well aware of his weaknesses, and this makes him very easy to identify with even if you haven’t quite been through the same life experiences. If you are someone who has ever made a mistake, ever doubted your own innate goodness or ever been frustrated with yourself or life in general, you won’t have any trouble sympathising with Hank as he deals with his issues and the ever-changing situations that life presents to each and every one of us.
What struck us most about Jake Fades was that it wasn’t afraid to show characters experiencing the whole gamut of emotion. Fear, insecurity, lust, love, loyalty, sadness, faith… they’re all here in a rich tapestry of a novel that you will want to read – and be uplifted by – again and again.