December 1, 2006
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.— Mystery novelist and Zen enthusiast Janwillem van de Wetering will discuss his first book, The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Amherst College Religion Department, the event is free and open to the public.
The Empty Mirror, written in 1973, chronicles the author’s exploration of Zen as a young man and one of the first Western students of the spiritual practice in Kyoto, Japan. Writing in an honest and often humorous style, van de Wetering reflects on his struggles with the customs and philosophies of the Zen practice, and offers a rare perspective into the experience of existing within a spiritual environment completely new to him. The author has been praised for his quick wit and sincerity, and Time magazine raves that “What makes this account extraordinary is that the book contains none of the convert’s irritating certitude.”
Born in Rotterdam, van de Wetering has lived and studied all over the world, including South Africa, Japan, London, Columbia, Peru, Australia, and Holland. His studies of philosophy and the Zen religion led him to write two follow-ups to The Empty Mirror—A Glimpse of Nothingness and AfterZen. In addition, he has written fiction, nonfiction and children’s books in several languages, gaining international acclaim for his “Amsterdam Cops” series, about the intriguing Dutch detective pair Grijpstra and de Gier. He has served on the Amsterdam Special Constabulary, and now lives with his wife in northern Maine.