This season, we’re partnering with Novel Dialogue, a podcast where a novelist and a literary critic talk about novels from every angle: how we read them, write them, publish them, and remember them.
On the latest episode, Ruth Ozeki, whose most recent novel is The Book of Form and Emptiness, speaks with critic Rebecca Evans and guest host Emily Hyde. This is a conversation about talking books, the randomness and serendipity of library shelves, and what novelists can learn in the editing room of a movie like Mutant Hunt.
Ozeki is an ordained Zen Buddhist priest, and her novels unfold as warm-hearted parables that have been stuffed full of the messiness of contemporary life. The Book of Form and Emptiness telescopes from global supply chains to the aisles of a Michaels craft store and from a pediatric psychiatry ward to the enchanted stacks of the public library. The exigencies of environmental storytelling arch over this conversation.
Evans asks Ozeki questions of craft (how to move a story through time, how to bring it to an end) that become questions of practice (how to listen to the objects stories tell, how to declutter your sock drawer). And we learn Ozeki’s theory of closure: her novels always pull together at the end so that readers are free to continue pondering the questions they raise.
View a transcript of the episode here.
Mentioned in this Episode
- Mutant Hunt, directed by Tim Kinkaid (1987)
- My Year of Meats, Ruth Ozeki (1998)
- All Over Creation, Ruth Ozeki (2003)
- The Book of Form and Emptiness, Ruth Ozeki (2021)
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo (2014)