“In the Land of Shiva: A Memoir” by James O’Hara

Shiva Front Cover

From the moment I first read what this book was about, I was hooked. And why? I think I will let you see for yourself:


When Brother Jim leaves his comfortable life teaching in Catholic high schools and travels to India, he finds himself unprepared for the challenges he faces.

His assigned task is to start his religious order in that country, but as he immerses himself in a land of unfamiliar customs and ancient religious traditions, he soon discovers that his mission has become deeply personal. Brother Jim questions not only all his vows, but his deepest beliefs.

As he travels across India and encounters holy men, thieves, rabid monkeys, and genuinely good-hearted people of all backgrounds, he realizes that the religion of his upbringing is but one of many paths to spirituality, and a sometimes oppressive one at that. On the eve of celebrating twenty-five years as a brother, Jim must decide what he truly holds as important and how he wants to live the rest of his life.

India and Nepal, with all their clamor, fascination, and surprises, come alive on every page in this unusual memoir set in the ‘80s.

Book Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Leandros Publishing

Release Date: June 10, 2014

Buy Links:




Mr. O’Hara has a few things to say concerning memoirs, and has been kind enough to share his thoughts with us. So, without further delay, I give the floor to our esteemed author:

My Memoir is 100% Truth and 90% Fact – And Yours Can Be That Too

“I have exercised the storyteller’s device of telescoping time in order to bring events into focus, as well as creating and rendering dialogue which, though not necessarily verbatim, conveys my recollection of the event and my perception of the speaker’s personality.”

The above quote is from the Author’s Note in my memoir In The Land Of Shiva.

A truth for many Westerners living in India and Nepal for a significant period of time (seven years in my case) is the recurring issue of health problems. However, believe me, you would not want to read in every other chapter of any book a sad tale of amoebic dysentery. So, in order to convey the constant assault on the body that the Indian subcontinent can produce, I put into one single chapter a reference to dysentery followed by scurvy followed by shingles.

Yes, all of these health issues truly did happen but, fact, not within the several week time frame of that chapter. But condensing the time frame conveys the true intensity of the very real and ongoing health challenges that life in a foreign country can provide.

Dialogue doesn’t have to be verbatim (how could it?) but it needs to be realistic and as honest an interpretation of the person and scene as the memoirist can muster. When my book came out I wrote to many of the main characters in the book and gave them the above quote about rendering dialogue. I also said, “Yes, I have put words into your mouth. Apologies where appropriate.” All said they were delighted by the book (even those with whom I had had conflict) and no one said anything about dialogue that I had ascribed to them.

Marion Roach Smith, author of the wonderful The Memoir Project says this: “If there is a moral responsibility in writing nonfiction, it favors the intent of life’s actual circumstances.” (Emphasis mine.)

So, go for the truth of your life as best you understand it, and write that memoir!

James O’Hara

Author, In The Land Of Shiva – A Memoir


Terrific advice!

Let’s learn a bit about the author himself now:

Author Ohara s

Born in Milwaukee, WI, at age 18 O’Hara joined the Catholic order of Brothers who taught at his high school.  As a Brother for almost 30 years, O’Hara taught math at both the secondary and college levels, and in his late ‘30s volunteered to travel to India to establish a branch of his religious order there.  After seven years in India and Nepal, he returned to the States, left the Brothers, and became a massage therapist and massage instructor.  In addition to doing bodywork, he has also become a certified dream worker.  He makes his home in Berkeley, CA. His time in India and Nepal took him from immersion in religion to a place “beyond religion.”

Author Links






Thank you, sir, for stopping by. And thank you, dear readers, for joining me today. I shall return another day with another wonderful book for your perusal.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “In the Land of Shiva: A Memoir” by James O’Hara

  1. James O'Hara says:

    thank you so much for having me stop by your site – it is much appreciated – James O’Hara

  2. bkwalker says:

    Thank you for hosting 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s