Author Ruth Ozeki to speak at Homer Babbidge Library 


On April 6, the Homer Babbidge Library will be hosting author and Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki for a reading of her latest novel along with a discussion centered around topics such as peace and healing. The event will be hosted at 3:30 p.m. in the Class of 1947 room on the plaza level of the library. It will also be accessible through Webex. 

Ozeki’s latest novel, “The Book of Form and Emptiness,” follows a boy who begins to hear voices from inanimate objects after the death of his father. The book won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2022. Ozeki’s other works have earned a variety of honors. Her previous novel, “A Tale for the Time Being,” was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. 

The event will be hosted by the American Studies program at UConn. Martha Cutter, director of the American Studies program, elaborated on what will be discussed at the event. 

“Topics to be discussed will include the healing power of listening, story-telling and bearing witness in community. The Buddhist idea of dependent co-arising or radical interdependence will also be considered,” Cutter said. 

Ozeki was raised in New Haven, Connecticut She has worked in the film industry as an art director, and directed and produced documentaries for Japanese television. She is the author of four novels in total, as well as a number of nonfiction works. Ozeki is a practicing Soto Zen Buddhist, and was ordained as a Buddhist priest in 2010. 

According to Cutter, Ozeki’s works span many fields, including ecological criticism, medical humanities, global warming, literary studies, American Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies and global studies. She also taught at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan and is currently a professor at her alma mater Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.  

Cutter explained why Ozeki was chosen to lecture at UConn this year. 

“The American Studies program at UConn felt she was an excellent fit for the Mahavir Ahimsa and Peaceful Living Experience (MAPLE) lecture this year because her works focus on healing and peace via stories in a traumatic and often violent world,” Cutter said. 

The event will be followed by a reception and book signing at the UConn Humanities Institute on the fourth floor of the library. The reception will run from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Cutter encouraged all students to come to the event, as it centers on peace through difficult times. 

“Students should come to this event because they will enjoy hearing her read from her fascinating works and how to coexist with others, heal, and be peaceful and calm when facing trauma and stress,” said Cutter. 

The event is sponsored by the Mahavir Ahimsa and Peaceful Living Experience (MAPLE) Fund, American Studies, CLAS, the UConn Foundation, UConn Humanities Institute, and Asian and Asian American Studies. 

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