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Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. She is the award-winning author of three novels, My Year of Meats, All Over Creation, and A Tale for the Time Being, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her critically acclaimed independent films, including Halving the Bones, have been screened at Sundance and aired on PBS. She is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City. Visit www.ruthozeki.com and follow @ozekiland on Twitter.
Recalling her debut novel, My Year of Meats, which addresses the issue of hormones in that food, Ozeki's follow-up uses concerns about potentially harmful pesticides in potatoes to address larger questions. Set on a tuber farm in Idaho, the book introduces Cassie Quinn, caretaker extraordinaire who, with potato farmer husband Will, has been looking out for Lloyd and Momoko, the failing parents of childhood friend Yumi ("Yummy"). When Lloyd suffers his third or fourth heart attack, Cass decides to find Yummy, who ran away from home 25 years ago. After receiving Cass's pleas, Yummy, now a 39-year-old college professor in Hawaii, decides to return home with her three children, each by a different father. What follows is a handsomely told story of life's struggles and triumphs. Except for some slight predictability at the end, Ozeki manages to draw out strong characters, tackle serious issues, and intertwine humor and heartache all in the same work. Readers who appreciate strong female Asian American protagonists like those in works by Lois-Ann Yamanaka will find this novel engrossing. Highly recommended for large fiction and Asian American fiction collections in public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/02.]-Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"Every seed has a story," says Geek, an environmental activist in Ruth Ozeki's new novel (after My Year of Meats), which is all about seeds-real and metaphorical ones. The Seeds of Resistance is a small anti-biotech group targeting Nu-Life potato, a laboratory-designed tuber produced by agribusiness company Cyanco. Heading for the heart of potato country, the ragged activists end up in Liberty Falls, Idaho, encamped at the home of Lloyd and Momoko Fuller, elderly purveyors of natural seeds. Though they're hardly radicals, the Fullers are also opposed to genetic modification of plants. Against the odds, the hippie Seeds and the conservative Fullers become friends. It is the other adult in the Fuller household, their only daughter, Yumi, who is suspicious of the Seeds. Yumi is an ex-hippie living in Hawaii, but she's returned home to care for her parents (her father is recovering from his last heart attack; her mother has Alzheimer's). Emotionally, Yumi is rather a mess. She has a bit of a problem with alcohol, and is unable to resist inappropriate guys, having three kids with as many men (Phoenix, 14; Ocean, 6; and baby Poo). A classic "bad seed," Yumi ran away from home at 14, after having an affair with her history teacher, Elliot Rhodes; back in Liberty Falls, she runs into Elliot and is again attracted. He is working for Cyanco's PR firm, spying on the Seeds. When the Seeds hold a Fourth of July potato protest on the Fullers' property, Elliot arranges for them to be arrested, with dire consequences for Lloyd. Apart from some awkward dialogue (the Seeds invariably intersperse their sentences with "dude"), this quirky novel is bewitching. Yumi's bumpy relationship with Lloyd and Lloyd's unexpected fondness for the Seeds are especially well rendered. Ozeki's story splices a bit of Edward Abbey into an Anne Tyler plot. The fruits of this mix are definitely worth tasting. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Praise for Ruth Ozeki and All Over Creation "Ozeki is one of my favorite novelists . . . bewitching, intelligent, hilarious, and heartbreaking, often on the same page." --Junot Dï¿½az, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of This Is How You Lose Her "In precise and luminous prose, Ozeki captures both the sweep and detail of our shared humanity. The result is gripping, fearless, inspiring and true." --Madeline Miller, author of the Orange Prize winner The Song of Achilles "Ozeki is a gifted storyteller. All Over Creation buzzes and blooms with the cross-pollination of races and subcultures, death and birth, betrayal and reconciliation, comedy and tragedy." --Los Angeles Time Book Review "Sophisticated . . . a nice blend of humor and strangely affecting optimism. Ozeki has written a book where dread and hope coexist. Neither is given short shrift or magicked away." --The New York Times Book Review "Ozeki joins the constellation of such environmentally aware writers as Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Proulx, and Margaret Atwood, bringing her own shrewd and playful humor, luscious sexiness, and kinetic pizzazz to the table, as well her keen interest in the interface between food, family, science, and corporate greed and the dynamics of spin. . . . Moving neatly between the intimate and the environmental, the familial and the global, Ozeki hones each vivid description, witty conversation and surprising occurrence to illuminate the complex dichotomies between love and responsibility, nature and culture, traditional and corporate agriculture, traditional and corporate agriculture, fact and fabrication." --Chicago Tribune "Ruth Ozeki is bent on taking the novel into corners of American culture no one else has thought to look--but where she finds us in all our technological weirdness. With a combination of humor and pathos that is all her own, Ozeki brings the American pastoral forward into the age of agribusiness and genetic engineering. The result is a smart compelling novel about a world we don't realize we live in." --Michael Pollan "All Over Creation opens wider with every plot twist as it moves from tenderness to comedy to sobering truth and the world in the eye of one family's storm. This is Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang updated by thirty years, with modern environmental challenges on the map and women in the front seat, driving the story. Hooray--Ozeki rides again." --Barbara Kingsolver "Ozeki deftly and sensitively folds the variegated topics together, whipping up a savory treat." --Entertainment Weekly "This winning novel . . . is a feast of humor and wisdom about family and friendship." --Glamour "Bewitching . . . Ozeki'story splices a bit of Edward Abbey into an Anne Tyler plot. The fruits of this mix are definitely worth tasting." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) "A feast for mind and heart." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)