A Conversation with Novelist Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki

Watch a recording of Ozeki’s talk on our YouTube channel.

Ruth Ozeki is a filmmaker, novelist, and Zen Buddhist priest. Her films, now in educational distribution, are shown at universities, museums and arts venues around the world. Body of Correspondence (1994) won the New Visions Award at the San Francisco Film Festival and was aired on PBS. Halving the Bones (1995), an award-winning autobiographical film, tells the story of Ozeki’s journey as she brings her grandmother’s remains home from Japan. It has been screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, the Montreal World Film Festival, and the Margaret Mead Film Festival, among others.

Ozeki’s first novel, My Year of Meats, garnered widespread glowing reviews, awards, and a still-growing readership. It was also an international success and has been translated into eleven languages and published in fourteen countries. It won the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Award, the Imus/Barnes and Noble American Book Award, and a Special Jury Prize of the World Cookbook Awards in Versailles. Ozeki’s second novel, All Over Creation, was a New York Times Notable Book and the recipient of a 2004 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, as well as the Willa Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction. A Tale for the Time Being was an instant New York Times bestseller list and was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. Her latest novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, was the 2022 winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Ozeki, a frequent speaker on college and university campuses, currently divides her time between New York City and British Columbia, where she lives with her husband, artist Oliver Kellhammer. She currently teaches creative writing at Smith College, where she is the Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of Humanities in the Department of English Language and Literature. She serves on the advisory editorial board of the Asian American Literary Review and on the Creative Advisory Council of Hedgebrook. She practices Zen Buddhism with Zoketsu Norman Fischer and is the editor of the Everyday Zen website. She was ordained as a Soto Zen priest in June 2010.