Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki signing books at Hotel la Rose in Santa Rosa, March 21, 2013.
Born (1956-03-12) March 12, 1956
New Haven, Connecticut
Occupation Novelist, filmmaker
Nationality American and Canadian

Ruth Ozeki (born March 12, 1956) is an American-Canadian novelist, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest. She worked in commercial television and media production for over a decade and made several independent films before turning to writing fiction.


Ozeki was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut to an American father, Floyd Lounsbury, and a Japanese mother, Masako Yokoyama. She studied English and Asian Studies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and traveled extensively in Asia. She received a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship to do graduate work in classical Japanese literature at Nara University in Nara, Nara. During her years in Japan, she worked in Kyoto’s entertainment district as a bar hostess, studied flower arranging as well as Noh drama and mask carving, founded a language school, and taught in the English Department at Kyoto Sangyo University.[1]

Ozeki moved to New York in 1985 and began a film career as an art director, designing sets and props for low-budget horror movies. She switched to television production, and after several years directing documentary-style programs for a Japanese company, she started making her own films. Body of Correspondence (1994) won the New Visions Award at the San Francisco Film Festival and was aired on PBS. Halving the Bones (1995), an award-winning autobiographical film, tells the story of Ozeki’s journey as she brings her grandmother’s remains home from Japan. It has been screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, the Montreal World Film Festival, and the Margaret Mead Film Festival, among others. Ozeki’s films, now in educational distribution, are shown at universities, museums and arts venues around the world.

After her career in film, Ozeki decided to pursue novel writing instead due to lack of funding. Her debut novel My Year of Meats, published in 1998, recounts the lives of two women across the globe who become connected through a cooking show. The book received positive feedback from critics and various awards, including the Kiriyama Prize. Her second novel, titled All Over Creation (2003), focuses on a family in Idaho and an environmental activist group. Again, her novel was well-received and got many awards, such as an American Book Award. Her most recent novel, A Tale for the Time Being, was released in 2013 and tells the story of the diary of sixteen-year old Tokyo resident Nao washing up on the shores of British Columbia, only to be found by a character named Ruth. Like Ozeki's first two novels, this book has received both critical praise and awards. The book was chosen as The Editor's Choice of 2013 for The New York Times Book Review, and was shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Personal life

Ozeki, a speaker on college and university campuses, divides her time between Brooklyn and Cortes Island, British Columbia, where she writes, knits socks, and raises ducks with her husband, artist Oliver Kellhammer.

She practices Zen Buddhism with Zoketsu Norman Fischer. Ozeki is the editor of the website Everyday Zen. She was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2010. She is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center.[2]

Awards and honors




  1. "long bio". Ozekiland. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  2. "Ruth Ozeki – Penguin Books USA". Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  3. Linda Morris. "Eleanor Catton youngest author ever shortlisted for Booker". The Age. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  4. Carolyn Kellogg (April 11, 2014). "Jacket Copy: The winners of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are ...". LA Times. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  5. Kirsten Reach (January 14, 2014). "NBCC finalists announced". Melville House Books. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  6. "Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  7. "Dos Passos Prize". Dos Passos Prize. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
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