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After his father dies, Benny Oh finds he can hear objects talking: teapots, marbles and sharpened pencils, babbling in anger or distress. His mother, struggling to support their household alone, starts collecting things to give her comfort. Overwhelmed by the clamour of all the stuff, Benny seeks refuge in the beautiful silence of the public library.
There, the objects speak only in whispers. There, he meets a homeless poet and a mesmerising young performance artist. There, a book reaches out to him. Not just any book: his own book. And a very important conversation begins.
The Book of Form and Emptiness is about grief, resilience, creativity and psychological difference. It is about the importance of reading, and an observation of the mess consumer culture has got us into. It is an affirmation of the power of community. It is funny, kind, wise, urgent and completely irresistible. If you let it—if you listen—it could change your life.
INTERVIEWS and REVIEWS
‘This compassionate novel of life, love and loss glows in the dark. Its strange, beautiful pages turn themselves. If you’ve lost your way with fiction over the last year or two, let The Book of Form and Emptiness light your way home.’
‘In The Book of Form and Emptiness Ruth Ozeki writes “A book must end somewhere.” But this magnificent novel is a book that will never end; it will live within you as long as there is hope and words and a need for communion. This is Ruth Ozeki at her playful incandescent brilliant best…a reality-expanding masterpiece.’
‘Ingenious and touching, A Tale for the Time Being is also highly readable. And interesting: the contrast of cultures is especially well done. I greatly look forward to Ruth Ozeki’s next book.’
‘Heart-breaking and heart-healing – a book to not only keep us absorbed but also to help us think and love and live and listen. No one writes quite like Ruth Ozeki and The Book of Form and Emptiness is a triumph.’
‘This is both an extremely vivid picture of a small family enduring unimaginable loss, and a very powerful meditation on the way books can contain the chaos of the world and give it meaning and order. Annabelle and Benny Oh try to stay afloat in a sea of things, news, substances, technological soullessness, and psychiatric quagmires, and the way they learn to live and breathe and even swim through it all feels like the struggle we all face. The Book of Form and Emptiness builds on the themes of A Tale for the Time Being, and ratifies Ozeki as one of our era’s most compassionate and original minds.’