Publisher: Penguin Classic ISBN: 978-0-141-18946-8 Buy: Amazon Wake up is the Beat Generation’s Jack Kerouac’s biography of the founder of the Buddhist religion, Prince Siddhartha. Buddhism was to have a direct impact over Kerouac’s life and work, noticeable in works such as Some of the Dharma, and Dharma Bums, but also in his lifestyle. This work was never published in Kerouac’s life-time, but it is an important addition to his cannon, despite its brevity. At only 146 pages it does fit a lot in, following Siddharta’s abandonment of his Father’s style of upbringing, with money and riches beyond imagination, and a need to shield his son from Human failings. It follows Siddhartha’s adoption of a homeless life, and his road to both wisdom and recognition for his learnings and self-knowledge. Although the book is written by Kerouac, his usual writing style is largely absent from this book, and he does include quotes and ideas from many sources in order to fill out the full details of Siddhartha’s life, and those of his family and his many contemporaries. It looks to leading a pure life, in a world full of temptations to lead the pure of heart astray, and the damage that a life of riches and privilege can do to the soul, and the bravery that it took for Sidhartha to turn his back on all of that. The book talks of Karma and destiny, and how a prediction indicated that Sidhartha would one day be seen as a great Holy Man,although throughout this book, this belief and prediction is sorely tested at a number of points. It is Sidhartha’s unshaking faith in his future, and his quest that shapes much of the course of the book, and although it focuses very much on his later life, little is mentioned of his youth, in his Father’s Palace, with a young son and a beautiful wife, who he abandons because of a sadness that wells up within him as he gets towards his thirtieth birthday. Many people would see this as a Saturn Return, or an early mid-life crisis, whilst Sidhartha sees it as a call to a greater purpose. At times, many of the characters will get confused to any readers who are unfamiliar with the story, and at times it seems like a Soap Opera with all of the things that happen in Sidhartha’s eventful life. Although the book is relatively short, it runs on as an unbroken stream of prose, with none of the chapter breaks that would normally be found with novels. There is a lot of information to be taken in, but it is always accessible to the reader who wants to find out more about the beginnings of Buddhism, which is now one of the most important of world religions.