Ruth Ozeki

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Ruth Ozeki
Ruth Ozeki signing books at Hotel la Rose in Santa Rosa, March 21, 2013.
Born (1956-03-12) March 12, 1956 (age 60)
New Haven, Connecticut
Occupation Novelist, filmmaker
Nationality American and Canadian
Alma mater Smith College

Ruth Ozeki (born March 12, 1956) is an American-Canadian award-winning novelist, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest, whose work has garnered international critical acclaim for its ability to integrate issues of science, technology, environment, politics and global popular culture into unique hybrid narrative forms. She worked in commercial film and television for over a decade, and she has lectured at universities and colleges around the world. She is currently the Elizabeth Drew Professor of Creative Writing at Smith College.


Ozeki was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut to an American father, Floyd Lounsbury, and a Japanese mother, Masako Yokoyama. She studied English and Asian Studies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and traveled extensively in Asia. She received a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship to do graduate work in classical Japanese literature at Nara University in Nara, Nara. During her years in Japan, she worked in Kyoto’s entertainment district as a bar hostess, studied flower arranging as well as Noh drama and mask carving, founded a language school, and taught in the English Department at Kyoto Sangyo University.[1]

Ozeki moved to New York in 1985 and began a film career as an art director, designing sets and props for low-budget horror movies. She switched to television production, and after several years directing documentary-style programs for a Japanese company, she started making her own films. 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 films, now in educational distribution, are shown at universities, museums and arts venues around the world.

Her debut novel My Year of Meats, published in 1998 by Viking Penguin, recounts the lives of two women across the globe who become connected through a cooking show. The book received positive feedback from critics and various awards, including the Kiriyama Prize. Her second novel, All Over Creation (Viking Penguin, 2003), focuses on a family in Idaho and an environmental activist group. Again, her novel was well-received and got many awards, such as an American Book Award. Her most recent novel, A Tale for the Time Being (Viking Penguin, 2013) tells the story of a mysterious diary, which washes up on a beach on the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada in the wake of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The diary, written by a troubled schoolgirl in Tokyo, is discovered by a novelist named Ruth, who becomes obsessed with discovering the fate of the girl. Like Ozeki's first two novels, this book has received both critical praise and awards. The book was awarded the 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, The 2013 Editor's Choice for The New York Times Book Review, and named the first-ever recipient of The 2015 Yasnaya Polyana Literary Award (founded by the Leo Tolstoy Museum & Estate and Samsung Electronics) for the Best Foreign Novel of the 21st century.[2] The book was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has been published in over thirty countries.

Her work of personal non-fiction, The Face: A Time Code (2016), was published by Restless Books as part of their groundbreaking series called The Face.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Ozeki divides her time between Northampton, Massachusetts where she teaches, Brooklyn and Cortes Island, British Columbia. She is married to the German-Canadian environmental artist and Parsons School of Design lecturer on Sustainable Systems, Oliver Kellhammer.

She practices Zen Buddhism with Zoketsu Norman Fischer. Ozeki is the editor of the website Everyday Zen. She was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2010. She is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center.[4]

Awards and honors (selected)[edit]


Anthologies (selected)[edit]


  1. ^ "long bio". Ozekiland. Retrieved 2 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "Ruth Ozeki Wins 2015 Yasnaya Polyana Literary Award". Retrieved 2017-02-07. 
  3. ^ "The Face". Restless Books. Retrieved 2017-02-07. 
  4. ^ "Ruth Ozeki – Penguin Books USA". Retrieved 2 April 2016. 
  5. ^ Guzeva, Alexandra (2015-10-29). "American writer honored with Yasnaya Polyana literary award". Russia Beyond The Headlines. Retrieved 2017-02-07. 
  6. ^ "Dos Passos Prize". Dos Passos Prize. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  7. ^ Kirsten Reach (January 14, 2014). "NBCC finalists announced". Melville House Books. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Ruth Ozeki Wins the Medici Book Club Prize for A Tale for the Time Being - News About Penguin Books USA". Retrieved 2017-02-07. 
  10. ^ "2014 Sunburst Winners | The Sunburst Award Society". Retrieved 2017-02-07. 
  11. ^ Linda Morris. "Eleanor Catton youngest author ever shortlisted for Booker". The Age. Retrieved 2 April 2016. 
  12. ^ Carolyn Kellogg (April 11, 2014). "Jacket Copy: The winners of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are ...". LA Times. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  13. ^ Flood, Alison (2014-02-13). "Ruth Ozeki beats Thomas Pynchon to top Kitschie award". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-02-07. 

External links[edit]