Literary Arts nonprofit to host Ruth Ozeki

Novelist and filmmaker Ruth Ozeki will speak at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Feb. 19 before a sold-out audience. The lecture is one talk in a multi-part collaboration with Literary Arts, a center for nonprofit literary arts programs in Portland.

Literary Arts conducts a survey for each of its programs—a wish list of whom patrons would like to see visit.

“Ms. Ozeki’s name has been a reoccurring one on these surveys,” said Paige O’Rourke, executive assistant at Literary Arts. “When an author’s work resonates with our community such as Ms. Ozeki’s has, we strive to bring them to our community in order to foster an even deeper connection between author and reader.”

Ozeki has written three novels, her most recent of which is A Tale for the Time Being. The novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and has received the LA Times book prize for fiction, among other awards.

While in Portland, Ozeki will also be teaching a master’s class in fiction on Feb. 16. The class will be a three-hour course in which 10 students are asked to submit a work of fiction to the author beforehand. The class will focus on their work specifically.

“Building community around literature is at the heart of all of Literary Arts’ programs,” O’Rourke said. “We believe that there is an urgent need for us to bring together artists and audiences, students and adults to share in the stories that tell us who we’ve been, who we are and who we will be.”

A Tale for the Time Being focuses on the 16 year-old Nao and writer Ruth, who finds Nao’s journal when it washes ashore on a remote Canadian island after a tsunami in Japan. Ruth is transported to the girl’s past and her own future.

Ozeki also has experience in the film world. She got her start as an art director on low budget horror films. In 1995 she wrote, directed and produced the feature-length documentary Halving the Bones: The Fractured History of a Skeleton in the Closet.

The documentary is a personal narrative about her family history and a look at issues which mirror some of the major struggles Asian Americans face in this country, such as divisiveness, alienation and belonging to multiple cultures at once.