A revelatory short memoir from the bestselling author of A Tale for the Time Being and Zen Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki about how her face has shaped and been shaped by her life.
What did your face look like before your parents were born? In The Face: A Time Code, bestselling author and Zen Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki recounts, in moment-to-moment detail, a profound encounter with memory and the mirror. According to ancient Zen tradition, “your face before your parents were born” is your original face. Who are you? What is your true self? What is your identity before or beyond the dualistic distinctions, like father/mother and good/evil, that come to define us?
With these questions in mind, Ozeki challenges herself to spend three hours gazing into her own reflection, recording her thoughts, and noticing every possible detail. Those solitary hours open up a lifetime's worth of meditations on race, aging, family, death, the body, self doubt, and, finally, acceptance. In this lyrical short memoir, Ozeki calls on her experience of growing up in the wake of World War II as a half-Japanese, half-Caucasian American; of having a public face as an author; of studying the intricate art of the Japanese Noh mask; of being ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest; and of her own and her parents' aging, to paint a rich, intimate and utterly unique portrait of a life as told through a face.
Praise for Ruth Ozeki
“Ozeki is one of my favorite novelists….bewitching, intelligent, hilarious, and heartbreaking, often on the same page.”
—Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of This Is How You Lose Her
“Ozeki joins the constellation of such environmentally aware writers as Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Proulx, and Margaret Atwood.”
“A careful, considerate writer.”
About the Author
Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. Her first two novels, My Year of Meats (1998) and All Over Creation (2003), have been translated into eleven languages and published in fourteen countries. Her most recent work, A Tale for the Time-Being (2013), won the LA Times book prize, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critic's Circle Award, and has been published in over thirty countries. Ruth's documentary and dramatic independent films, including Halving the Bones, have been shown on PBS, at the Sundance Film Festival, and at colleges and universities across the country.
A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Ruth was ordained in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City, and is currently the Elizabeth Drew Professor of Creative Writing at Smith College.