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The Book of Form and Emptiness

By: Ruth Ozeki
Narrated by: Ruth Ozeki,Kerry Shale
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Publisher's Summary

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

After his father dies, Benny Oh finds he can hear objects talking: teapots, marbles and sharpened pencils, babbling in anger or distress. His mother, struggling to support their household alone, starts collecting things to give her comfort. Overwhelmed by the clamour of all the stuff, Benny seeks refuge in the beautiful silence of the public library. 

There, the objects speak only in whispers. There, he meets a homeless poet and a mesmerising young performance artist. There, a book reaches out to him. Not just any book: his own book. And a very important conversation begins.

The Book of Form and Emptiness is about grief, resilience, creativity and psychological difference. It is about the importance of reading and an observation of the mess consumer culture has got us into. It is an affirmation of the power of community. It is funny, kind, wise, urgent and completely irresistible. If you let it - if you listen - it could change your life.

©2021 Ruth Ozeki Lounsbury (P)2021 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Once again, Ozeki has created a masterpiece. Her generous heart, remarkable imagination and brilliant mind light up every page." (Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves)

"Heart-breaking and heart-healing - a book to not only keep us absorbed but also to help us think and love and live and listen. No one writes quite like Ruth Ozeki and The Book of Form and Emptiness is a triumph." (Matt Haig, author of How to Stop Time)

What listeners say about The Book of Form and Emptiness

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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    40
  • 4 Stars
    18
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    1
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    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    36
  • 4 Stars
    20
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    4
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    2
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    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    39
  • 4 Stars
    14
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    3
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    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

It shines.

This book is full of little trinkets that catch the light and shine like gifts from benevolent black crows. It's filled with pain and compassion and light and love. A brilliant transcription of human frailty and kindness.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Insufferable

This is the worst book I have ever read. It is insufferable. I’d already listened too far so couldn’t return it. One of the characters is a non binary ferret. There’s a girl called “The aleph”. It’s been absolute torture to listen to. I don’t know what drugs the judges of the Women’s Prize for Literature were on when they crowned this piece of garbage as the winner last year. Please save yourself a credit and hours of your life by avoiding this dumpster fire of a book. Kind regards.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful narration

Really engaging storytelling. I gave 4 stars for story because I found the story line difficult due to similar trauma in childhood so this brought up familiar emotions. A very deserving winner of the Womens Prize for 2022 fiction.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Different kind of read

Amazing narration, so many accents and voices performed flawlessly. The storyline was complex and difficult listening at times - frustrating and sad but I can appreciate the writing. I was glad for the ending. Not one I would normally choose but pleased I persisted.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful

A beautifully written story. Sensitive, insightful. Clever, amusing, poignant. Loved the characters. And all their flaw’s

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An intriguing intricate book

Some books stay with you and this one has. A delightful protagonist guides us through an intricate web of ideas and a compelling story. Starting with the Japanese idea of Tsukumogami the author begins pondering questions such as - What if objects were sentient? How would our culture respond to such a cross-cultural concept given life in a bustling US city? What's the meaning of objects in our lives (especially at times of high emotional need)? Many more ideas are brought to us through lively eclectic characters (not least of which the novel itself) and with great tenderness and laughter. So much to savour.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • JR
  • 15-11-2023

Persevered …

… but not sure why? What did l just listen to? And I can’t stand the narrator trying to impersonate a woman. He sounded like Mrs Doubtfire!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful. A touching story with pearls of wisdom scattered throughout.

A touching and heart warming story, well told. Infused with wisdom. Lots of tears and smiles. I loved it!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Absorbing and enduring

What a fabulous book. Like nothing you’ve read before. Absorbing, enduring, something that will stay with me for a long time. Excellent performances.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Boring & way too long

Don’t bother
Hoarding versus tidying
Unbelievable plot of homeless people living in libraries & using staff rooms unchecked
Mental health stepped through minute by minute
Way too long

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