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Podcast Episode 16

The Book of Form and Emptiness

with Ruth Ozeki
Hosted by Sean Wilson

The Book of Form and Emptiness

with Ruth Ozeki
Hosted by Sean Wilson
Ruth Ozeki

Sean Wilson sits down with novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest, Ruth Ozeki to discuss The Book of Form and Emptiness , an inventive new novel about loss, growing up, and our relationship with things. Don’t miss this conversation with the Booker Prize-finalist author of A Tale for the Time Being.


One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-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. 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.


Books are available from our friends at Perfect Books.


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