Sarasvati’s Gift: The Autobiography of Mayumi Oda—Artist, Activist, and Modern Buddhist Revolutionary

Mayumi Oda. Shambhala, $20.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-61180-815-5
Painter Oda (Goddesses) explores her life as a visual artist, environmental activist, and Buddhist practitioner in this powerful memoir. Oda, who was raised in a Japanese Buddhist family, was four years old when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (“a horror that affected me profoundly”). In 1962 she married American translator John Nathan, and the two moved to New York four years later, where Oda began her involvement in Vietnam War protests and women’s liberation movements. When Japan was to receive a plutonium shipment as part of its nuclear reactor program in the ’90s, Oda writes that the goddess Sarasvati called to her to stop its progress. As a result, she founded two organizations that advocate for abandoning nuclear power, the promotion of alternative energy, and sustainability. Oda used her thangkas—large scrolls depicting various Eastern religions’ goddesses as well as feminizations of traditionally masculine gods—as conversation starters during her activism, and 26 of them are showcased in full-color images throughout. While Oda focuses most heavily on her activism, readers interested in Buddhist art or feminism will find this straightforward, impassioned memoir rewarding. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 07/14/2020
Release date: 11/10/2020
Genre: Religion
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