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The Book of Form and Emptiness: A Novel de…
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The Book of Form and Emptiness: A Novel (edició 2021)

de Ruth Ozeki (Autor)

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1011215,254 (4.06)5
Títol:The Book of Form and Emptiness: A Novel
Autors:Ruth Ozeki (Autor)
Informació:Viking (2021), 560 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca

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The Book of Form and Emptiness de Ruth Ozeki

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I'm still relatively new to the work of Ruth Ozeki. My wife picked up a copy of A Tale for the Time Being on remainder, but because of vision issues, I couldn't read it. The cover, nonetheless, pulled me in, and when I found a copy of the book on CD at a library sale, I bought it. It made for wonderful commute "reading" and left Ozeki very much on my radar. She's become one of those writers I "stalk"—checking regularly online to see what they have in the works and doing all I can to get my hands on a review copy.

The Book of Form and Emptiness, like A Tale for a Time Being, is lengthy and complex, but Ozeki has the gift of creating complexity that nonetheless seems straightforward. One has to read for a while before recognizing the complexity of the world they've entered.

The world of The Book of Form an Emptiness is populated by the sort of people one might not notice in real life (though the question of "what is real?" runs through the entire book, and that's probably part of Ozeki's point): Annabelle, a young widow whose attachment to objects has left her home a labyrinth; Benny, her son, who has been hearing the voices of inanimate objects since his father's death; a young woman living on the streets and producing both conceptual and physical works of art; an Eastern European "hobo" (as Benny calls him) who also lives on the streets and has a salon of sorts among the disenfranchised, initiating conversations about topics ranging from history to politics to the need to embrace everything, including garbage; a Japanese Zen nun who has become internationally known after writing a book on tidying up one's life; and a psychiatrist with an always-perfect manicure and a serious lack of imagination, who is treating Benny. The crucial scenes in the last third of the book are set at the time of Trump's election, which threatens to turn complexity into chaos.

The Book of Form and Emptiness has one additional important character: the Book. The Book tells Benny's story, interspersed with regular, brief commentary from Benny. The book has an omniscience that Benny pushes against. It tells parts of Benny's story he doesn't want to share, and Benny feels the book forces him to take actions he feels ambivalent about, though the book insists that's not true.

Ozeki takes her time telling stories, which I think is one of the reasons her cast of characters comes across as so "real." The first third of the book, when few of the central characters have been introduced moves slowly, but that pace is part of what makes Ozeki's novel feel so very "real" (caveats again about questions of reality). As more characters enter the story, Ozeki weaves a fabric that is fine, but not restrictive. Yes, there are moments of coincidence, but Ozeki makes them feel like the coincidences of ordinary life, not like an author's manipulations.

I absolutely recommend this book, whether or not it seems the sort of thing you like to read. Enter it with patience, work through it steadily, and see the way the world of The Book of Form and Emptiness comes to shape in all its detail and untidiness.

I received a free review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own. ( )
  Sarah-Hope | Oct 10, 2021 |
The title – taken from the Buddhist heart sutra – implies a more earnest book than is the case; The Book of Form and Emptiness is a big, polyphonic, often comic, magical-realist collage of a novel [...]
afegit per Nevov | editaThe Observer, Stephanie Merritt (Oct 10, 2021)
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