The Voices Behind The Book of Form and Emptiness: Ruth Ozeki in Conversation with the Hearing Voices Network

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki tells the story of a young voice hearer named Benny Oh. The novel is narrated by one of Benny’s voices, a book that tells the story of Benny’s life. Although Benny experiences mainstream psychiatric care including psychiatric hospitalization, it is not the medical model that helps Benny make sense of his life. 

Like many voice hearers, Benny makes meaning out of his experiences through developing relationships with fellow psychiatric survivors and voice hearers, and through finding ways to relate positively to his own voices. The Book of Form and Emptiness, which won the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022, is a remarkable example of how the core principles and understandings of the Hearing Voices Network approach are reaching new audiences around the world. 

On Thursday, September 29th at 6PM Eastern, join us for a lively conversation with Ruth Ozeki and the Hearing Voices Network USA about the power of our voices and the stories we inhabit. Panelists include: Ruth Ozeki, Author; Jeannie Bass, Director of Peer Services and HVN-USA Board member; Claire Bien, Author, HVN-USA Board member, and president, ISPS-US; Derek Pyle, Writer and HVN support group facilitator. With thanks to Remy Blasko.

About the presenters:

Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. Her acclaimed novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, published by Viking in September 2021, tells the story of a young boy who, after the death of his father, starts to hear voices and finds solace in the companionship of his very own book. 

Claire Bien is a Chinese immigrant, voice hearer, author, member of the HVN-USA board, and president of ISPS-US. She facilitates three HVN support groups – including one at Yale Psychiatric Hospital. Books, and the people in them, have provided her with great understanding and much guidance for ways of being in the world. 

Jeannie Bass is a voice hearer, member of the HVN-USA board of directors and Director of Peer Support Services in a Massachusetts public psychiatric hospital. She has facilitated an HVN group there since 2014. Her story was featured on NBC in 2018. Jeannie approaches life with a belief that there’s “no stronger connection between people than storytelling.” 

Derek Pyle has lived experience of hearing voices and visions, and he facilitates Hearing Voices Network groups online and in-person. His writing has appeared in Madness Network News, Mad in America, and Lion’s Roar.

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