Dinner With Buddha

Otto Ringling is suffering. His wife recently died, he lost his cushy job (as a food-book editor) and he doesn’t know what to do with the rest of his life. Time for a road trip! As in the two previous novels in Roland Merullo’s charming trilogy (Breakfast With Buddha and Lunch With Buddha), he sets off with his spiritual teacher, Volya Rinpoche, an internationally famous Russian-Tibetan Buddhist monk who just happens to be his brother-in-law. There’s a purpose of sorts to their journey, but that’s just the motor that drives this tale, which is really about the men’s relationship as it evolves during the journey through the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states. Everyone they meet offers the Rinpoche an opportunity to teach, though he invariably does so in unexpected and delightful ways. The author, who has written more than a dozen novels, wisely understands that no self-respecting Rinpoche would rely solely on words to open hearts and minds. This is a story of spiritual awakening that is joyful and surprising and never preachy.