Ruth Ozeki is the 2022 winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction for her novel The Book of Form and Emptiness. Ruth Ozeki is a filmmaker, novelist, and a Zen Buddhist priest. Her novels explore science, technology, environmental politics, and religion in a unique and masterful way.
The Book of Form and Emptiness
After the tragic death his beloved musician father, fourteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house - a sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn't understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; some are pleasant, a gentle hum or coo, but others are snide, angry and full of pain. When his mother, Annabelle, develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous. At first, Benny tries to ignore them, but soon the voices follow him outside the house, onto the street and at school, driving him at last to seek refuge in the silence of a large public library, where objects are well-behaved and know to speak in whispers. There, Benny discovers a strange new world, where "things happen". He falls in love with a mesmerizing street artist with a smug pet ferret, who uses the library as her performance space. He meets a homeless philosopher-poet, who encourages him to ask important questions and find his own voice amongst the many; and he meets his very own Book-a talking thing-who narrates Benny's life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.
Jane, a struggling filmmaker in New York, is given her big break, a chance to travel through the United States to produce a Japanese television program sponsored by American meat exporters. Meanwhile, Akiko, a painfully thin Japanese woman struggling with bulimia, is being pressured by her child-craving husband to put some meat on her bones, literally. How Jane's and Akiko's lives intersect in wacky crosscultural collisions provides romance, humor, intrigue, and even a muckraking message about questionable meat and the Wal-Martification of America.
Nao lives in Tokyo. She is sixteen, and has decided to write a diary before she kills herself. She has plenty of material - school bullies, depressed parents - but she particularly wants to chronicle the life of her great-grandmother, Jiko, a Buddhist nun. Eventually, Nao thinks, her diary will find its reader. Ruth lives with her husband on the Pacific coast of Canada. A few months after the 2010 tsunami she finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore. It contains a diary.
Previous NZ Book Award Winning authors:
"Ruth Ozeki - A Tale For The Time Being" by Kris Krug is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0