Religion & Beliefs

Eat Pray Backlash?

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love has been endorsed by Oprah and become the second-bestselling book of 2007, so of course it was due for a backlash. USA Today reports a growing trend of disdain for Gilbert’s easy spiritual epiphanies, suggesting … Read More

By / February 7, 2008

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love has been endorsed by Oprah and become the second-bestselling book of 2007, so of course it was due for a backlash. USA Today reports a growing trend of disdain for Gilbert’s easy spiritual epiphanies, suggesting that people resent her depiction of India and Indonesia as shortcuts to inner peace.

The New York Post started the anti-trend with a teardown of the piece back in December that called the book

the worst in Western fetishization of Eastern thought and culture, assured in its answers to existential dilemmas that have confounded intellects greater than hers. You may be a well-off white woman, but if you are depressed, the answer can be found in the East, where the poor brown people are sages.

At Old Hag, blogger Lizzie Skurnick put it more succinctly: “Nothing is more boring than your epiphanies.”

Gilbert has responded to the criticism, saying that she gets that her book smacks of “loosey-goosey spiritual seeking” that’s “just a free-for-all of well-heeled Westerners randomly shoplifting rituals and symbols from all the world's more exotic religions” but adding that she’s just trying to understand her relationship with the divine. (Which sort of brings us back to the “boring” accusation, doesn’t it?)

I haven’t read the book – last time I was at the airport I went with The Audacity of Hope instead – but I’m told that the sections on prayer seem really foreign if you come at them from a Jewish perspective. Then again, Gilbert’s not exactly looking for a Jewish epiphany, or she would have gone to a different country starting with the letter “I.”

Also in Jewcy: The JewBu's Guide to Eat, Pray, Love