February 9, 2010

Melville House author proclaimed god


Raj Patel, author of in the Garden of Eden.

Raj Patel, author of "Stuffed and Starved," in the Garden of Eden.

We think he’s great, too, but now it’s official: Melville House author Raj Patel has been declared a god. Yes, that’s right—Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved, has been deified. According to this report in the New York Times, Patel has been “proclaimed the messiah Maitreya by followers of the New Age religious sect Share International.

How does such a thing happen? According to the Times report, things got rolling “when Benjamin Creme, the leader of Share International, who is also known as the Master, proclaimed the arrival of Maitreya. The name of the deity has Buddhist roots, but in 1972, Mr. Creme prophesied the coming Maitreya as a messiah for all faiths called the World Teacher. Mr. Creme did not name the messiah, but he revealed clues that led his devotees to fire up their search engines on a digital scavenger hunt that would lead them to The One.”

Patel, who currently lives in San Francisco, grew up in London and was raised a Hindu, is dismayed about his new godly status. He happened to be hard at work promoting his new book, The Value of Nothing, when followers of Mr. Creme started putting two and two together. Clues included his birth date, his dark skin tone, having traveled from India to London, and the kicker — a stutter. While promoting his book on the Colbert Report, Patel hesitated on a few words, and that was it. Mr. Creme’s followers were sold.

Patel has vigorously protested being called a god. But that’s just further proof, say Creme et al: The Maitreya is supposed to deny that he is the Maitreya.

We’re inclined to say the books speak for themselves.

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.