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NYZ: Book Reading of “Make the Dark Night Shine,” by Alan Lessik

November 19, 2023 @ 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

lessik author berlin

Author Alan Lessik will read from his new Zen novel, Make the Dark Night Shine at New York Zendo. Inspired by his Aunt Nina Uchida´s family story, it is a love letter from a father to the daughter he never met. In the novel, the father is a gay diplomat turned Zen priest. Lessik has been fascinated by the words and images of Dogen´s Genjo Koan, and this novel is his interpretation of the koan in the troubling times between the two world wars.

As one reviewer wrote, “A meticulously researched historical novel with a Zen heart, Make The Dark Night Shine tells the story of a diplomat-turned-monk torn between many countries and many identities as his world falls to war. There is much music in Lessik’s storytelling, but the hidden gem of this novel is its detailed (albeit brief) glimpse of life in a Buddhist monastery in pre-war Japan. Though peppered with many love stories — between men, friends, and family — it is, more than anything, an examination of queerness not seen often in Western literature and a love story with the shifting, wandering self. It is one man’s attempt to make peace with his choices and their far-reaching consequences. Cinematic and sad, it raises valuable questions about how a person might do good in a broken world, a lesson we all should consider.´´

Alan Lessik is a member of the Berlin Queer Writers Circle, Zen practitioner, amateur figure skater, and LGBT activist. His debut novel The Troubleseeker was short-listed for the Publishing Triangle’s 2017 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction. With an interest in how novels preserve queer culture, he has been published on this and other topics by Lambda Literary, the Bay Area Reporter, and Advocate. He received Jukai from in 2013 from Kikū Hōetsu Christina Lenherr at the San Francisco Zen Center and was an active member of the Center´s Queer Dharma team. Later, he became a teacher at the SF LGBTQ Sangha and has written on Zen topics at his blog: alanlessik.com.

Doors open at 1 p.m. No registration is necessary. ZSS Health Protocols apply.


November 19, 2023
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm


New York Zendo
223 E 67th St
New York, NY 10065
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(212) 861-3333

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