Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Japanese American novelist and documentary filmmaker Ruth Ozeki is the daughter of anthropologist Floyd Lounsbury. She is married to Canadian land artist Oliver Kellhammer and the couple divides their time between New York City and Vancouver.

Her first novel My Year of Meats (Viking, 1999) was written mainly in Vancouver. It's the story of an independent-minded Japanese-American TV producer, Jane, who reluctantly teams up with a tradition-bound Tokyo housewife, Akiko, to produce a cooking series for Japanese television. Ozeki mostly wrote the novel will living in a rented apartment just off Hastings Street in 1996. "Outside, in front of the house," she recalled, "our Chinese landlord grew rotation crops of bok choy, gailan, and lo bok in the tiny garden that, in kinder economic times, had once been lawn. In back, in the alley right outside my office window, teenage prostitutes from the prairie provinces gave blow jobs to out-of-work loggers and shot needles of heroin, fresh off the boats from Asia, into the veins on their necks. From time to time a truck loaded with cages of chickens bound for the processing plant down the alley would clatter by, filling the narrow street with white feathers that drifted like snow onto the dazed girls. The sweet scent of the slaughterhouse thickened the air. At the end of the year, I finished writing. The result was My Year of Meats." It received the third annual, $30,000 Kiriyama Prize for best work of fiction in the Pacific Rim.

Her second book All Over Creation (Viking 2003) is about a prodigal Japanese American daughter who returns to Idaho. Yumi Fuller, nicknamed 'Yummy,' returns to a family farm she fled twenty-five years ago. As a single mother of three she faces her dying father and her mother with Alzheimer's. The along comes Yumi's former lover and high school teacher--now a spin-doctor for agribusiness, as well as the Seeds of Resistance, a food activist group. Both of Ozeki's first tow novels concern modern attitudes towards food and health.

Stretching from Tokyo to Desolation Sound, Ruth Ozeki's third novel, A Tale for the Time Being (Viking 2013) is about a teenage Japanese girl's diary, discovered by a woman on the West Coast of Canada when it is washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, and how two people who will never meet can be deeply connected. Bullied at school in Tokyo, upset by her unemployed and suicidal father, Nao loves her 104-year-old great-grandmother, a feisty Buddhist nun. Featured in the New York Times, the novel has been described as both a mystery and a meditation.


My Year of Meats (Viking, 1999)
All Over Creation (Viking 2003)
A Tale for the Time Being (Viking 2013) 978067002663 $28.95

[BCBW 2013] "Fiction" "Japanese"