The Wheeler Centre
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Ruth Ozeki on Catastrophe, Thought Experiments and Writing as Performed Philosophy
On the eve of her 2013 Man Booker Prize shortlisting (for A Tale for the Time Being), Canadian-American author (and Zen Buddhist priest) Ruth Ozeki visited the Wheeler Centre’s green room for a conversation about her work and ideas with Melburnian and fellow author Leanne Hall.
Ozeki begins by explaining her process of auditioning characters for A Tale for the Time Being, describing how – midway through the work – the incidence of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami forced her to reconsider the book, responding more directly to a changed Japan by ‘breaking the fictional container’.
She also discusses thought experiments in her writing, which she sometimes constructs as performed philosophy, her earlier book My Year of Meats, and reflects on why the relationship between a writer and a reader is ‘about the most magical thing [she’s] ever experienced’.
Ruth Ozeki was a guest of the Melbourne Writers Festival in August 2013.