A warm and witty saga about agribusiness, environmental activism, and community—from the celebrated author of My Year of Meats and A Tale for the Time Being
Yumi Fuller hasn’t set foot in her hometown of Liberty Falls, Idaho—heart of the potato-farming industry—since she ran away at age fifteen. Twenty-five years later, the prodigal daughter returns to confront her dying parents, her best friend, and her conflicted past, and finds herself caught up in an altogether new drama. The post-millennial farming community has been invaded by Agribusiness forces at war with a posse of activists, the Seeds of Resistance, who travel the country in a camping car, “The Spudnick,” biofueled by pilfered McDonald’s french-fry oil. Following her widely hailed, award-winning debut novel, My Year of Meats, Ruth Ozeki returns here to deliver a quirky cast of characters and a wickedly humorous appreciation of the foibles of corporate life, globalization, political resistance, youth culture, and aging baby boomers. All Over Creation tells a celebratory tale of the beauty of seeds, roots, and growth—and the capacity for renewal that resides within us all.
"Every seed has a story," says Geek, an environmental activist in Ruth Ozeki's new novel (after My Year of Meats), which is all about seeds real and metaphorical ones. The Seeds of Resistance is a small anti-biotech group targeting Nu-Life potato, a laboratory-designed tuber produced by agribusiness company Cyanco. Heading for the heart of potato country, the ragged activists end up in Liberty Falls, Idaho, encamped at the home of Lloyd and Momoko Fuller, elderly purveyors of natural seeds. Though they're hardly radicals, the Fullers are also opposed to genetic modification of plants. Against the odds, the hippie Seeds and the conservative Fullers become friends. It is the other adult in the Fuller household, their only daughter, Yumi, who is suspicious of the Seeds. Yumi is an ex-hippie living in Hawaii, but she's returned home to care for her parents (her father is recovering from his last heart attack; her mother has Alzheimer's). Emotionally, Yumi is rather a mess. She has a bit of a problem with alcohol, and is unable to resist inappropriate guys, having three kids with as many men (Phoenix, 14; Ocean, 6; and baby Poo). A classic "bad seed," Yumi ran away from home at 14, after having an affair with her history teacher, Elliot Rhodes; back in Liberty Falls, she runs into Elliot and is again attracted. He is working for Cyanco's PR firm, spying on the Seeds. When the Seeds hold a Fourth of July potato protest on the Fullers' property, Elliot arranges for them to be arrested, with dire consequences for Lloyd. Apart from some awkward dialogue (the Seeds invariably intersperse their sentences with "dude"), this quirky novel is bewitching. Yumi's bumpy relationship with Lloyd and Lloyd's unexpected fondness for the Seeds are especially well rendered. Ozeki's story splices a bit of Edward Abbey into an Anne Tyler plot. The fruits of this mix are definitely worth tasting.
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Best book I've read in a very long time. I was in tears at the last 3 pages, not only for the content of the story but also for the sadness at having to leave these characters, who I'd grown to love, behind.