Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki
Ruth Ozeki
  • Born: March 12, 1956
  • Nationality: Canadian
  • Profession: Novelist

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Ruth Ozeki is an American-Canadian author, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest. Her books and films, including the novels My Year of Meats, All Over Creation (2003), and A Tale for the Time Being (2013), seek to integrate personal narrative and social issues, and deal with themes relating to science, technology, environmental politics, race, religion, war and global popular culture. Her novels have been translated into over thirty languages. She 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.

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Any independent bookstore that has managed to survive is the best place to do a reading.
Canada has always been a great place for literature. It's strong and growing stronger, and there will always be reading, and there will always be great writers.
Even though I was making documentaries, my films had fictional elements to them. I think I like blurring those distinctions because so much of what we see on television purports to be the truth, but it's often largely imaginary - or wishful thinking, or any number of less honorable things. Truth
Fiction is an elemental force, which has the power to shape reality in its own image - or images, I should say - because reality, like light, exists not only as a single point or particle, but also as an array of possibilities. Power
For a writer, you definitely do not want to be in the mainstream. You want to be on the edge because that's where the vantage point is. That's where you can see.
For me, writing is a way of thinking. I write in a journal a lot. I'm a very impatient person, so writing and meditation allow me to slow down and watch my mind; they are containers that keep me in place, hold me still.
I am really interested in the way we relate to time. In particular, the way readers and writers talk to each other. Casting your voice out into the future is very beautiful to me. Time ;Future
I did documentary film for a long time, and I spent a lot of time behind the camera, fervently wishing that the reality I was filming would conform to my narrative propriety. But you can't control it. Time
I live in a beautiful part of British Columbia, and I run through the rainforest. I do have to look over my shoulder to check for a cougar or a wolf though, so sometimes it's not the most relaxing.
I think all characters are facets of the writer. In a way, they have to be if you're going to write them convincingly.
I think that all writing is in search of lost time. I'm starting to realise that very clearly. Time
Inspiration comes from everything from the entire world, and it's hard to pinpoint one thing. I can trace one inspiration to the writing of 13th-century Zen master Dogen Zenji, who writes beautifully about time. Time
It costs so much to make films. With a novel, you can write the whole thing on a ream of paper from Staples for $4.
It makes me nuts, the idea that if you put a political struggle at the heart of your book, then it has to be that the author - me - is trying in some way to push my views onto my readers.
I've always played that edge of fact and fiction. I used to be a filmmaker, and certainly in film that's a line that filmmakers cross more readily and more easily than novelists.
Maybe all teenagers feel like they don't fit in. I never felt like a cool kid. I remember being bullied for being Asian.
My mind is like a gyre, and odd juxtapositions happen.
People have always heard voices. Sometimes they're called shamans, sometimes they're called mad, and sometimes they're called fiction writers. I always feel lucky that I live in a culture where fiction writing is legal and not seen as pathology. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The American society around me looked at me and saw Japanese. Then, when I was 19, I went to Japan for the first time. And suddenly - what a shock - I realized I wasn't Japanese; they saw me as American. It was an enormous relief. Now I just appreciate being exactly in the middle. Society ;Time
The relationship between reader and writer is reciprocal in a way. We co-create each other. We are constantly emerging out of the relationship we have with others.
There's something about the idea of writing, and thinking about writing as a form of prayer - the way as a writer you call out into the world and throw your words into the world. You're not praying to a god, but you're almost conjuring a reader to arrive. That's what books do: they're an invitation to readers. Religion & God
There's something about Vonnegut's deadpan irony that I really like. And I like Borges' puzzle structure.
What's fascinating to me is the way that multiple stories go into creating any world - a fictional world, but certainly the world that we live in as well. Of course, I cannot control that world. I can just control the fictional world.
When I start writing these novels, I go into them with a spirit of inquiry rather than to substantiate prejudices I had in the beginning. If you don't do that, you can't write good characters.
When I write fiction, I have the illusion of being able to control these fictional worlds and these characters, and to make them say what I want them to say. Of course, the problem is that it is an illusion, and by the end of it you realize that you're not in control of it at all; the characters have taken over, and they're driving the vehicle.
When I'm writing a novel, I'm usually just trying to write about things that are interesting to me.
When I'm writing a novel, which is what I like to write, I get up early, sit zazen, make a pot of green tea. I wear wrist cuffs to keep my wrists warm and minimize irritation from extended contact with the surface of my desk. I sit down and write.
Writing is solitary. You spend so much time alone and in your own mind, telling stories. Time

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