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Publisher's Summary

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

NOMINATED FOR THE 2022 WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 BC AND YUKON ETHEL WILSON FICTION PRIZE

“If you’ve lost your way with fiction over the last year or two, let The Book of Form and Emptiness light your way home.” —David Mitchell, Booker Prize-finalist author of Cloud Atlas

A brilliantly inventive new novel about loss, growing up, and our relationship with things, by the Booker Prize-finalist author of A Tale for the Time Being

One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-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. 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.

©2021 Ruth Ozeki (P)2021 Viking

Critic Reviews

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 BC AND YUKON ETHEL WILSON FICTION PRIZE

INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER
GLOBE AND MAIL BESTSELLER
TORONTO STAR BESTSELLER
GUARDIAN'S BEST FICTION OF 2021
TIME MAGAZINE'S 100 MUST-READ BOOKS OF 2021

One of:
TIME’s “34 Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2021”
The New York Times’ list of “10 new books we recommend this week”
The Globe and Mail's "Fall 2021 books preview: Pump up your autumn with these weighty reads"
Amazon's Best Books of September 2021
CBC's "33 Canadian books coming out in September we can't wait to read"
CBC's "65 Canadian works of fiction to watch for in fall 2021"
CBC’s “34 great Canadian books to check out in fall 2021”
Toronto Star's "25 books for the readers on your holiday list"
Quill & Quire's “2021 Best of Fall guide”
Los Angeles Times's "30 Books We're Most Anticipating This Fall"
Yahoo's "25 New Fall Books That’ll Turn Just About Anyone Into a Bookworm"
Vulture’s “40 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Fall”
LitHub's "22 Novels You Need to Read This Fall"
Barnes & Noble's "Biggest Books of the Fall"
USA Today's "5 Books To Not Miss"
The Guardian’s “50 biggest books of autumn 2021"
Reader’s Digest Canada’s “8 Best Books to Give As Gifts This Year 

“Inventive, vivid, and propelled by a sense of wonder.” —TIME

“This compassionate novel of life, love and loss glows in the dark. Its strange, beautiful pages turn themselves. If you’ve lost your way with fiction over the last year or two, let The Book of Form and Emptiness light your way home.” —David Mitchell, Booker Prize-finalist author of Cloud Atlas and Utopia Avenue

 “This novel’s meditative pacing perfectly suits its open-hearted contemplation.” USA Today

What listeners say about The Book of Form and Emptiness

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