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Ruth Ozeki Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

My Year of Meats (1998)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
All Over Creation (2003)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Tale for the Time Being (2013)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Book of Form and Emptiness (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Face: A Time Code (2015)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Ruth Ozeki is a filmmaker, Zen Buddhist priest, and novelist best known for writing A Tale for the Time Being and The Book of Form and Emptiness. Her books have earned praise as they integrate issues like science, technology, religion, environmental politics, and pop culture.

She attended Smith College and graduated in 1980 with a B.A. in English and Asian Studies. After her graduation from Smith College, Ruth was presented a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship to continue her studies with graduate work at Nara University.

Ozeki made her debut in 1998 with the release of My Year of Meats and then followed that book up with All Over Creation in 2003. Those novels were translated into eleven different languages and were published in fourteen countries. Her third novel, A Tale for the Time Being, was released in 2013 and it won the LA Times Book Prize. That book was released on an even wider scale with publication in over thirty countries.

In addition to her work as an author, Ruth also makes documentary and dramatic independent films. Her first film, Body of Correspondence, was released in 1994 and aired on PBS. Her second film was Halving the Bones which was an autobiographical film about Ruth’s journey to bring her grandmother’s remains home from Japan. The film nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Some of her earlier work saw her working as an art director and production designer on low budget films. She also produced and directed documentary-style programs for Japanese television.

Ruth is a longtime practitioner of Buddhism and she was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2010. She is now affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. Ozeki is married to the German-Canadian environmental artist Oliver Kellhammer. She makes her home between Western Massachusetts, New York City, and British Columbia, Canada. Ruth is also a creative writing teacher at Smith College and the Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of Humanities in the Department of English Language and Literature.

The Book of Form and Emptiness is considered a triumph and one of Ozeki’s best books. The story begins one year after thirteen-year-old Benny Oh lost his father and now he’s starting to hear voices. Each of the voices belongs to something in his house whether it be a sneaker or a broken Christmas ornament. Benny can’t understand what these things are trying to say to him, but he can read their emotions from happy to angry. As his mother starts to become a hoarder, the voices grow more and more.

Benny tries to ignore them at first, but then the voices begin following him around. The only place that he can get any silence is the local library where the objects are well-behaved and only whisper. Benny’s life changes at the library as he discovers a whole new world. He meets new friends there, including his very own Book which narrates his life and teaches him that he should listen to the things that truly matter.

The Face: A Time Code is a memoir from Ruth Ozeki. The book sees the author delving into a profound encounter with memory and the mirror. The book gets into the idea of the traditional Zen idea that your face before your parents were born is your true face. Ozeki takes this idea and then challenges herself to spend three hours looking at her own reflection, recording her thoughts, and noticing every possible detail. It is then from these three hours that she is able to dig into meditations on race, aging, family, death, the body, self doubt, and, finally, acceptance. The book is philosophical, funny, personal, political, and poetic all at the same time.

A Tale for the Time Being is Ozeki’s 2013 novel that was a finalist for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. A sixteen-year-old in Tokyo named Nao has decided to end it all in order to escape from the loneliness and bullying that dominates her life. Before she does so, Nao plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who is over a hundred years old. A diary will be her only solace, a diary that will touch lives in ways that she can’t possibly imagine. On the other side of the ocean, Ruth is a novelist living on a remote island that discovers a Hello Kitty lunchbox filled with artifacts. She believes it to be debris from the 2011 tsunami and digs into the contents. What she finds will pull her into the past and Nao’s drama, and forward into her own future.

All Over Creation is the story of Yumi Fuller who ran away from Liberty Falls, Idaho when she was just fifteen years old. The town was in the heart of the potato farming industry and now, twenty-five years later, she is going to return. Her parents are dying and her best friend is still there so Yumi will have to confront them and her conflicted past while also getting caught up in new drama. The post-millennial farming community has been invaded by Agribusiness forces and they are at war with a group of activists known as Seeds of Resistance. The book has a quirky cast of characters and digs into matters of corporate life, globalization, political resistance, youth culture, and aging baby boomers.

My Year of Meats was the debut novel from Ruth Ozeki and the book that put her on the map as an author. It was awarded the Kirayama Prize for Literature of the Pacific Rim. A documentary filmmaker named Jane Takagi-Little gets a job producing a Japanese television show that is sponsored by an American meat-exporting business. As she works with them, she will uncover truths about love, fertility, and a dangerous hormone called DES while also crossing paths with Akiko Ueno, a beleaguered Japanese housewife struggling to escape her overbearing husband.

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