It is not often when a book is recommended and we shy away from it like we are going to touch a poisonous flower. When The Buddha, Geoff and me was recommended by a friend, I was sure it would be full of tosh about Buddhism with outlandish cult names and exotic references.
I could not have been more wrong.
This is the story of Ed, a washed up copywriter who is just out of a relationship and plain out of luck, drifting through a life less ordinary in an auto-pilot mode. The dramatic moment in this very real, relatable protagonist’s life occurs when he realises there is an entirely different way of looking at life’s vagaries and how it’s possible to turn a terrible situation on its head. The author Edward Canfor-Dumas utilises his own life story to portray Ed’s day-to-day problems such as work, relationships, life, and the angst of living in this world.
In a most unusual and a rather delightful way, the novel introduces you to Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. As luck would have it, Ed chances on Geoff in a typical English pub, where, over a couple of beers their conversation steers towards this lesser-known philosophy. As you read on, you end up discovering this practice along with Ed, and his story of self-discovery gradually becomes yours too. We all have an ‘Ed’ in us or in our lives and perhaps a ‘Geoff’ too. This could be my story, yours or the story of the person living next door.
The charming combination of Dumas’ very British sensibilities and dry wit spins a yarn that is appealing to the modern reader. The book’s informal tone does not rely on heavily worded Shakespearean expression, making it a breezy read. The lively description of the many distinctive landmarks such as the ever-present pubs, squares and the ubiquitous London Tube forms an integral aspect of the author’s point of view and makes the book hard to put down.
This little gem of a book has all the ingredients of a bestseller. Indeed, it was one in 2006. More than that though, it has a narrative that aims to nudge the reader to look beyond the pages and introspect. Very few books do this, and fewer authors have the capability of doing it in their very first one.
The Buddha, Geoff and me is highly recommended to those who are going through a hard time right now, and even those who are not going through anything at all.