Smith College’s Ruth Ozeki Wins the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction

Ruth Ozeki, the Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of Humanities in the department of English language and literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, received the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction, one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious literary awards. Professor Ozeki received the award and a £30,000 prize at a ceremony in London.

Professor Ozeki was honored for her fourth book – The Book of Form and Emptiness (Viking 2021). The novel tells the story of a young boy who, after the death of his father, starts to hear voices and finds solace in the companionship of his very own book. The novel features memorable characters (including talking objects) and an engaging storyline that revolves around themes like loss and attachment that very much reflect the Buddhist philosophy of the author.

Chair of Judges Mary Ann Sieghart, said: “In an extraordinary year for fiction written by women, and from an incredibly strong shortlist, we were thrilled to choose The Book of Form and Emptiness, which stood out for its sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy. A celebration of the power of books and reading, it tackles big issues of life and death, and is a complete joy to read. Ruth Ozeki is a truly original and masterful storyteller.”

The daughter of a Japanese mother and a Caucasian-American father, Ozeki was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. She attended Smith College and graduated with degrees in English literature and Asian studies. She received a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship to pursue graduate work in classical Japanese literature at Nara Women’s University.

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