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Summary

Winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction 2022.

When a book and a reader are meant for each other, both of them know it....

After the tragic death of his father, fourteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house and sound variously pleasant, angry or sad. Then his mother develops a hoarding problem, and the voices grow more clamorous. So Benny seeks refuge in the silence of a large public library. There he meets a mesmerising street artist with a smug pet ferret; a homeless philosopher-poet; and his very own Book, who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.

Blending unforgettable characters with jazz, climate change and our attachment to material possessions, this is classic Ruth Ozeki – bold, humane and heartbreaking.

©2021 Ruth Ozeki (P)2021 Canongate Books Ltd.

What listeners say about The Book of Form and Emptiness

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Definitely a slow burner

Overall an enjoyable book. I think I would have preferred to read the physical book rather than listen. Sometimes the narration was grating when the narrator spoke in the character's voices.
The book had many strands to it, and interwoven through the story was a commentary on many social, political and philosophical questions.
I would read the book a second time, but this time in physical form or on my Kindle.

13 people found this helpful

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Nice story mismatched by performance

Voice acting sounds like mockery most of the time. It kills all the quiet magic of the story.

7 people found this helpful

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Longer than it needed to be

I gave up with 9 hours still to go. Just couldn't dedicate any more time to it as it didn't seem to be going anywhere. A shame as the overall idea was interesting. The narration of the main female character was really annoying and changed the whole perspective of her character.

6 people found this helpful

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Exquisite and extraordinary. Just entered my list of favourite books ever.

Ozeki blends a crackerjack story and vivid characters with jazz-like riffs that play with philosophy, Zen Buddhism, history, politics, the vagaries of time, and, perhaps above all, beauty. The clever structure, while narrating a good story for readers who aren’t incline to analyse, also reflects current narrative theory, post-modernism, cognitive psychology, and much more. I’m in awe.
The reading is somewhat marred by a narrator who mispronunces ‘library’ as ‘libary’ and other annoying quirks.

5 people found this helpful

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This book is Sublime

I haven’t got enough words to say how much I loved this book it is a beautiful novel exquisitely written looking at mental illness and grief through many sympathetic lenses. One of which being Zen philosophy and it certainly made me want to learn more about this topic.

I loved every single one of the large cast of characters but I was especially routing for Anabelle the mother who I just adored.

I have heard said that this book needs an edit. Please no just give yourself to 536 pages of masterful and emersive story telling.

Audio book also beautifully performed.

3 people found this helpful

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great book

such a beautiful book! I highly recommend this. A great and moving story and great narration.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing performance

In a book with nearly 100 chapters the reading performance is the key to get me listening and this book was performed superbly. The story was also very interesting and thought provoking concept from The Book perspective. Really enjoyed it!

2 people found this helpful

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Difference can be difficult

But this book full of kindness,understanding and sympathy gently brings a happy ending to a situation which often seemed hopeless.

2 people found this helpful

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A slow burn to start

I found the beginning a bit slow but, my goodness, once I got into the story it was a real page turner. Most enjoyable

1 person found this helpful

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Remarkable

This is one of those books that gives so much. I absolutely loved it. There are multiple narratives within and strands of philosophy. It made me think about things differently. Ruth Ozeki is a great talent and the prize she was awarded recently was well deserved.

1 person found this helpful