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Literature for Lunch: ‘The Book of Form and Emptiness’ by Ruth Ozeki

April 22, 2022 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm MDT

Book cover with the text: Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness

“The Book of Form and Emptiness” by Ruth Ozeki
Friday, March 22, 2022, 12 p.m.

Via Zoom (Email English@Boisestate.edu to receive the link to the Zoom webinar.)

The Hemingway Literary Center presents the Spring 2022 Literature for Lunch Webinar Series “The Architecture of Words and Lives.” An office, university, hotel, and library. The habitual spaces that form the backdrop of one’s life deeply inform the characters and lives of these four novels. Join host Cheryl Hindrichs, professor of English, to discuss these diverse works with other uncommon readers.

Thank you to the Idaho Humanities Council for making these discussions possible.

Email English@Boisestate.edu to receive the link to the Zoom webinar.

“The Book of Form and Emptiness” book summary (via Good Reads):

After the tragic death of his beloved musician father, fourteen-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, where “things happen.” 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.

With its blend of sympathetic characters, riveting plot, and vibrant engagement with everything from jazz, to climate change, to our attachment to material possessions, The “Book of Form and Emptiness” is classic Ruth Ozeki—bold, wise, poignant, playful, humane and heartbreaking.