Big Apple 2 Bites -
The Aikido angle
The author has been a long time student of aikido and karate and so is the main character of the novel. Aikido plays a huge role in the book, probably more than it has ever done in any other work of fiction.
"Well, there is Angry white Pyjamas by Twigger, but it is more of a travelogue, non-fiction."
Much of the story takes place in New York Aikikai. Akira, a resident student of NYAikikai, is one of the pivotal characters of the novel. with his pidgin English, and odd philosophy, he is engaging, endearing and enriching.
Not only is aikido training a part of the novel, the art enters the plot in many other ways.One of the uses of aikido is to explore one of the novel's many central themes, the chasms and similarities between the East and the West. While the novel contains expeditions into the world of religion, philosophy, science and mathematics, especially in the second part where the two main characters, Sen and Allison, exchange a lot of lengthy, captivating emails, Aikido principles and philosophy play a key role in helping the protagonist and the readers reach a state of peace and stability in the world of confusion and lies.
"Aikido is more than just a martial art for me. There are lessons in aikido for every aspect of life. and with theb help of Akira, Sen finds peace through Aikido philosophy. There is nothing sublime or esoteric here, but just a sense of realisation that comes from dedication and equating life with art."
Well, the dedication of the author towards Aikido, writing and life does make for sublime reading.
As a pleasant aside, real life senseis - Yamada Shihan and Sugano Shihan, along with lots of other luminaries of the aikido world, make their way into the novel.
"I have trained under the great teachers in NYAikikai and elsewhere, and I guess this was my way of saying thank you," says the author.