The Book of Form and Emptiness


The Book of Form and Emptiness



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Viking Canada



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A brilliantly inventive new novel about loss, growing up, and learning to take charge of one's life, by the Booker Prize-finalist author of A Tale for the Time Being. Benny Oh is a fourteen year-old boy living in the Pacific Northwest who, shortly after his father dies, begins to hear voices. The voices belong to all the things around him, speaking. He doesn't understand what they are saying, but he can sense their emotional tone; many are angry and full of pain. Benny's voice-hearing is heightened because his depressed and lonely mother, Anabelle, is a hoarder. The first voices Benny hears belong to the things in Annabelle's growing hoard, but soon he is hearing voices not just at home, but on the street and at school. When he can't escape the voices, he starts to talk back to them. People begin to think he is mentally ill. Benny escapes to the public library whenever he can, and slowly a strange new world opens up to him as he gets to know its denizens. He meets and falls in love with a nineteen year-old freegan installation artist named 'The Aleph,' who introduces him to the 'Bottleman,' an older, homeless, Slovenian poet in a wheelchair who also hears voices. Benny discovers there are special places in the Library, anomalous or paranormal locations where 'things' happen. As the novel unfolds, Benny's attempt to deal with the voices and figure out what is real escalates as his mother faces eviction and custody issues, as both struggle to remake themselves and find their own power and agency. With its blend of sympathetic characters, a strong forward-moving plot, and a vigorous engagement with everything from our attachment to material possessions to the climate crisis, The Book of Form and Emptiness is classic Ruth Ozeki--brilliant, playful, poignant, humane, and heartbreaking.

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The Book of Form and Emptiness

Five College Library Catalog