Susan Trott is the author of ten previous novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, where they share a cottage and fishing boat.
Trott, the author of eight novels (e.g., Sightings, LJ 6/15/87), changes gears with this work, which is best described as a deceptively simple Buddhist parable. The eponymous holy man is Joe, a World War II veteran, who suffers the loss of his family and goes in search of answers-a quest that eventually leads him to a hermitage on top of a mountain in an unnamed country. Because of his goodness and wisdom, Joe is sought each summer by thousands of people who stand in line for days, even months, only to be given a one-minute interview. The author recounts the experiences of people waiting in the line, the transformations wrought by their interviews with Joe, and the inner problems of Joe's monks. The reader learns of a drunkard who becomes sober, an angry man who has his last tantrum, a warrior who finds peace, and a famous man who learns humility. While Trott offers up facile answers to complex problems, the simplicity of her tale and the lucidity of her writing make this novel a major contender in the inspirational self-help field.-Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.
Trott, who has won a wide readership with her individualistic, witty novels (Divorcing Daddy), may touch some readers with this charming and quirky, if sometimes woolly, fable about a 72-year-old holy man named Joe and the pilgrims to whom he dispenses advice. Joe, who likes to allude to Jesus and Buddha, is very human and fallible, clandestinely taking pills for his heart ailment. Most visitors are rushed through his mountain hermitage in 20 seconds; he rarely talks to them but many seem to benefit anyway, letting go of egotism, envy, arrogance and other spiritual ills. Joe's wisdom too often seems lifted from fortune cookies (``Your life, stripped to its essence, is pure gold''). He glibly recycles Eastern ideas, as when he tells a grieving widower that his wife ``was never yours. Nothing that you have is yours,'' and he occasionally slips into New Age psychobabble (``Einstein completely abandoned his ego.... Then he was free to think, free to release his intuitive power''). But his basic message‘tolerance, overcoming greed and ignorance, recognizing the inherent holiness of people and nature‘shines through Trott's prose. BOMC and QPB selection. (Mar.)
"[A] modern-day allegory... with a keen intelligence and a
surprisingly wry humor." -Kirkus Reviews
"Novelist Susan Trott entertains and teaches in 34 delightful stories about a long, long line of people winding up a mountain to the home of the Holy Man. Throughout, Trott's inventive mind and playful characterizations surprise us..." -San Francsico Chronicle
"Reminiscent of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales... The book cleverly encapsulates much of the human search for wisdom and happiness. In the brief time we spend with these characters, their tales become more familiar, and we recognize their questions, hardships, and needs as our own. The Holy Man dispenses a fresh brand of wisdom. With wit and modern insight, it compels readers to look inward, to turn to themselves, for enlightenment." -Booklist
"Charming and quirky... [The Holy Man's] message shines..." -Publishers Weekly