“A book must start somewhere. One brave letter must volunteer to go first, laying itself on the line in an act of faith, from which a word takes heart and follows, drawing a sentence into its wake. From there, a paragraph amasses, and soon a page, and the book is on its way, finding a voice, calling itself into being.”
Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness
Booker Prize-finalist Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. With its blend of sympathetic characters, riveting plot, and vibrant engaging subjects, her brilliantly inventive The Book of Form and Emptiness is bold, wise, poignant, playful, humane, and heartbreaking.
Following the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear the voices of household objects filled with emotional tones; some are pleasant, while others are snide and full of pain. When his mother, Annabelle, develops a hoarding problem and the voices grow more clamorous, Benny seeks refuge in the silence of the public library, where objects speak in whispers. There, Benny discovers a strange new world and meets a beautiful street artist with a smug pet ferret, a homeless philosopher-poet who encourages him to ask important questions and find his own voice among the many, and his very own Book—a talking thing—who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.
Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. She is the award-winning author of three novels, My Year of Meats, All Over Creation, and A Tale for the Time Being, which was a finalist for the 2013 Booker Prize. Her nonfiction work includes a memoir, The Face: A Time Code, and the documentary film, Halving the Bones. She is affiliated with the Everyday Zen Foundation and teaches creative writing at Smith College, where she is the Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of Humanities.
NPR, September 25, 2021
NBC News, November 1, 2021
The Guardian, March 5, 2022
“Heartfelt . . . Ozeki, a practicing Buddhist priest, infuses her story with Zen philosophy, using themes of mindfulness and our connection to the living world to highlight pressing modern concerns like climate change, capitalism and the function of art. Inventive, vivid and propelled by a sense of wonder, The Book of Form and Emptiness will delight younger and older readers alike.”