Thomas Clements has always been an outsider, preferring to fantasise about the exotic East and lose himself amongst the chaotic sights, sounds and smells of London’s Chinatown rather than face the reality of his existence in Western suburbia. Despite doing badly at school, his natural talent for memorising details and his extraordinary ability to master foreign languages lands him a place at university. But this is not a habitat in which he thrives. Following a stint in a psychiatric ward while on his year abroad in Germany, he secretly drops out from his studies, and from life.
When his parents receive an invitation to Clement’s graduation ceremony, where they will discover their son has lied all along and has not attained a degree after all, he does what he always does. He hatches a plan to run away, rather than face reality. This time to a job teaching English in rural China, where he can hide from everyone and everything. But wherever Clements runs, things go from bad to worse: the teaching isn’t what he thought it would be, modern China is not as romantic as he had imagined, people he counts on as friends ultimately move on, and his first encounter with a girl leaves him questioning his identity as a man.
It doesn’t matter where Clements tries to hide in the world, his anxiety and depression always get the better of him. Now he finally realises he has nowhere in the world to run, will Clements find a way to gain inner peace before he self-destructs?
The Autistic Buddha is a stunning tale of the author’s extraordinary outer and inner journeys to make sense of the world – his world – which is at the same time bravely honest, despairing and inspiring.