From Korea’s most revered author comes the tale of a small boy’s quest for enlightenment. Loosely following the last chapter of the Avatamsaka sutra, Little Pilgrim relates the heroic journey of Sudhana, who sets out on a grand adventure. Along the way, he encounters fifty-three teachers including men, women, children, animals, and heavenly beings, as he travels; mountains, valleys, deserts, and forests in his search for truth. A spiritual tale in the tradition of Siddhartha, this novel is now available to English audiences for the first time. A passionate and lively epic, Little Pilgrim takes its readers on a fantastical journey.
Born in 1933, Ko Un is acknowledged as Korea’s foremost contemporary poet. Following firsthand encounters with the horrors of war, he became a Buddhist monk and a Zen master, later leaving the order to become a full-time writer. In his native Korea, Ko Un has published over a hundred volumes of poetry, essays, fiction, and drama. He was short listed for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002 and 2004. Little Pilgrim is the first release of Ko Un’s fiction available in English.
From the opening of Little Pilgrim
A peek of the river was visible behind a cluster of hibiscus trees hanging in a drunken stupor. It flowed quickly in the early morning light, the sound of its rippling subdued. For little Sudhana, this glimpse of the river constituted his first awareness of the world as he regained consciousness.
From Little Pilgrim
The ancient grove was blossoming with camellia flowers, more than had ever before been seen along that coast. Songs from a thousand years ago had been buried in the ground like pearls enclosed in their shells. Over the years, so many songs had flowed on and away. The wandering poets, who composed the songs, and all the girls who had sung them, had flowed on and away. Yet now these fossil songs, buried beneath the bell and grown rusty as only songs can rust, had at last echoed once in the open air, then had turned bud by bud into pure white camellia flowers. In bestowing those songs and the scent of the flowers on the young pilgrim, the dying Ratnachuda had fulfilled his task.