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My Year of Meats

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  15,029 ratings  ·  1,624 reviews
A cross-cultural tale of two women brought together by the intersections of television and industrial agriculture, fertility and motherhood, life and love—the breakout hit by the celebrated author of A Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki’s mesmerizing debut novel has captivated readers and reviewers worldwide. When documentarian Jane Takagi-Little finally lands a job produci
Paperback, 366 pages
Published March 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published June 1st 1998)
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Tess No vegan, but there is a vegetarian couple.

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In this root sense, ignorance is an act of will, a choice that one makes over and over again, especially when information overwhelms and knowledge has become synonymous with impotence.
If you spend too much time amongst the bestsellers and the prize winners and the white male authors of the world, you will be misled in your assumptions of what is possible for literature at a particular point in time. Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, Post-Modernism, de blah, de blah, de blah, all these fl
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
"I am haunted by all the things— big things and little things, Splendid Things and Squalid Things— that threaten to slip through the cracks, untold, out of history."

You know when you start a book and it speaks to your own experiences or thoughts at a particular point in time? If I had to pick a book to transport me back to the 1990s, My Year of Meats would be it.

The main character Jane Takagi-Little is tasked with directing a reality TV show for Japanese television and her brief has basically
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. I can’t say that I was overly excited to read this book based on the synopsis. I picked it based solely on the author as I had been meaning to read her for ages, I really thought the book would be dull and hokey. But I was pleasantly surprised. A truly original albeit complex story. Sure there’s a huge neon moral story screaming through the pages but the delivery was fresh and full of wit and I thought it was very cleverly written. The characters are somewhat over exaggerated with ple ...more
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Ruth Ozeki recognizes the collaboration of commercially-fueled media hype, deliberately adopted consumer ignorance, and the bottom-line practices of the food industry, and this diagnosis of disturbing global trends and local effects rings true. There was a lot of information in this book about hormonally treated beef that I did not know in this detail, and Ozeki is clever to package that information within a novel about two women both preoccupied with their fertility. The first is a Japanese-Ame ...more
Jan 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
the ending just ruined it for me. there was something contrived in the magic it tried to dust over an otherwise clean, compelling narrative. i was close to love up until the epilogue's approach.

"Sometimes Akiko felt like a thief, sneaking through the desolate corners of her own life, stealing back moments and pieces of herself." (37)

"They voted to name her Joy. When she first came to live at the large brick house at the end of the drive, she spoke no English and certain things seemed to terrify
(4.5) I don’t know what took me so long to read another novel by Ruth Ozeki after A Tale for the Time Being, one of my favorite books of 2013. This is nearly as fresh, vibrant and strange. Set in 1991, it focuses on the making of a Japanese documentary series, My American Wife, sponsored by a beef marketing firm. Japanese American filmmaker Jane Takagi-Little is tasked with finding all-American families and capturing their daily lives – and best meat recipes. The traditional values and virtues o ...more
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I had heard about this book while at Smith College because it was the summer reading choice for incoming first-years. I was either a sophomore or junior at the time, and had always meant to pick it up. (Funny that only after I finished it did I learn that she is a Smith alum too).

This novel is so many things: a work of fiction, a cinematic piece in its movement, a political piece in its content, a look at "romantic" relationships and complexities, motherhood, eating disorders, the meat ind
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to jo by: ruth ozeki
this is my new bff ruth ozeki's first novel and yes, it is a novel that deals with the woeful health impact of the way beef is processed these days by the US meat industry, but like all of ozeki's novels, it is also so much more. and i for one am a little astonished that this is her first novel, because there are so many layers to it, and this complex ensemble of voices, self-referentiality, and documentary work is put together in such a controlled, light-hearted, humorous yet touching way, you ...more
Oct 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: americana, propaganda
I started out loving this book. The voice was moving, and it seemed like a love letter to everything I adore about the American Heartland. I was fascinated by the commentary on authenticity - with ourselves, with physical commodities such as meat, and with others. I also absolutely loved the excerpts from The Pillow Book and all of its simple profoundness. I'm definitely going to put it on my to-read list. I also was moved by Akiko's plight and found her story interesting.

Then, out of nowhere, t
Nov 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: vegetarians, aspiring vegetarians, mixed race folks, propaganda producers, environmentalists
this would be ruth ozeki's fantastic first novel. you should go read this right now, if you haven't already. it's one of my all-time favorites. the story is based around two protaganists: one is a mixed race american woman who works as a television producer. the japanese beef council hires her to produce a series that profiles a different american family & its beef consumption every week, highlighting the all-american robust outdoors-y health of the family, & featuring a beef-heavy recipe at the ...more
Clif Hostetler
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
Reading this book is one way to give yourself the incentive to become vegetarian. It's a novel, but if you can believe that it's based on actual conditions that occur in the meat industry you will feel nausea every time you walk past the meat department in the grocery store.

I read this book back in about the year 2000 long before my days. So I didn't write my own review. I was reminded of it because the following short review showed up on by PageADay Book Lover's calendar for today
Oct 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone

So perhaps I am a bit late to the party, but My Year of Meats is an engaging and compelling read.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but that is often the case; if I pick up a book from a shelf I generally do not read anything on the cover or flyleaf and if I add it to my Goodreads TBR list it seems to be years before I get to it. Without checking, I don’t even know which friend’s feed caused me to originally mark it to-read.

But, putting all of that aside, I am very glad that I did read this nove
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ruth Ozeki writes with such precision and honesty that I found myself walking alongside her main character Jane Tagaki-Little, completely immersed in the story rather than viewing it objectively. I had to keep reminding myself that this was Ozeki's first novel, because it's so fully formed and well-written.

Jane is a documentary maker who lands a job producing a television series for Japanese housewives called "The American Housewife" sponsored by the US Beef Conglomerate. She travels the country

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Honestly, this book is very strange. It reads like a memoir, definitely not like fiction. I *thought* it was a memoir good two-thirds into it. There are so many scientific details, included so mechanically, that it made me think I was reading a long, occasionally poetic, occasionally over-the-top dramatic reportage. It was interesting, okay, but confusing.

Confusing is the operative word for this book. I noticed many reviewers being shocked or even offended by its alleged “ve
Nov 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: meatheads
This novel outdid Fast Food Nation when Eric Schlosser was still collecting Happy Meals.

Okay, maybe that's a bit inaccurate, but I found one of Ozeki's more recent novels today in a thrift store and remembered how much I liked this one. I read it a long time ago when -- full disclosure -- I still might've been in my excitable vegan phase -- but I remember it being highly entertaining. It has a sort of American Cattle Ranch with some kind of Japanese something thrown in; I know that's not especia
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ozeki explores the producer / consumer relationship in a quite compelling way...

Through split narratives, we meet Jane Takagi-Little, a Japanese American documentarian, and Akiko Ueno, a Japanese housewife. Jane is hired by Akiko's husband and his business (Beef-Ex) to direct and produce reality / cooking shows about American meats for a Japanese audience.

Jane directs and produces this program (called 'My American Wife') traveling the US and meeting ' wholesome and upstanding (and they must be
Holly Dunn
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I adore Ruth Ozeki. Her female characters aren’t stock characters and they’re really interesting. Like in A Tale For the Time Being here are two main narratives, one is a TV director making an advertising series about US meat for broadcast in Japan. The other is the wife of the first woman’s boss. She lives in Japan and her husband is awful. There are a lot of philosophical and moral questions raised about the way that meat is produced in America. I think some people have found this a bit preach ...more
Many years ago, my parents had a property (Australian for "farm") in the Wyong Valley north of Sydney, where they bred and raised beef cattle on pasture. It was a beautiful place, worlds away from the stinking feedlots so vividly depicted in Ruth Ozeki's novel. Even though, of course, the end place--someone's table--is the same. My mother read My Year Of Meat while she lived and worked on this property, and then she passed it on to me, saying that she found it "interesting." Soon after that, my ...more
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
Full disclosure: I stopped reading "My Year of Meats" about 100 pages shy of the end. It had come strongly recommended from many friends, so I had high expectations. The book had a strong beginning but slowly devolved into an depressing and transparent disaster. The extent to which Ozeki felt she had to hit me over the head with her message was insulting. With the exception of the main character, Jane Tagaki-Little, everyone fell so clearly into obvious stereotypes and, despite not having finish ...more
Possibly one of the most important books I have ever read. I knew how Ozeki was when it came to handling themes but nothing is like her first book. It discusses not only misogyny, culture, and corporate corruption but also the terrifying reality of American Beef. Jane and Akiko's story is incredibly intriguing, with so many delightful twists and turns. From their twin issues with fertility to the confining roles for women, Ozeki weaves their tale well. Especially with regards to the parallels be ...more
Matt Carl
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Starts gently, but builds fast and hits hard. Add in some really interesting characters, and this was a very good book.

Can't say there's a happy ending when a 17 year old book addresses the same issues that need addressing today, more than ever.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
Camelia Rose
My Year of Meats is my second Ruth Ozeki and the author's debut novel. I've read and loved A Tale for the Time Being .

I like the satire of American and Japanese commercialism and reality TV. The ugliness of the US meat industry is not new to me, but Ozeki has told a good story. Anti-racism is woven into the fabric of book. The depiction of the relationship between the protagonist and her Japanese mother is subtle and layered. The quotes from the Japanese classics, The Pillow Book by Sei Shōn
Second read, 3/2020, 5/5
Oh my. Ruth Ozeki’s novels seem to just improve upon a reread, and I feel like I understood this better the second time around. The realities of animal agriculture really do make for a powerful literary backdrop. I wish more fiction would explore that, from different angles and not too overwhelmingly, to help people see what’s going on. Essentially we need more authors like Ozeki who can brilliantly intertwine important and educational matters with captivating storylines
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Ordinarily a book that has the words "reality show" on the back cover would send me running. But I loved A Tale for the Time Being and I decided to trust Ruth Ozeki. I'm glad I did. Despite the setting of the book in the world of sleazy reality television (a reality show of American families with a goal of driving up beef consumption in Japan) I found the book to be thoughtful, compelling and still very relevant today even though it takes place in the late 1990's (they FAX messages!). Ozeki is a ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed this, for the most part. The dynamics surrounding in/fertility, gender, and abuse were something I've rarely encountered in fiction, and it tied Jane's and Akiko's stories together beautifully.

The ending felt pat, though maybe that's my cynicism.

I also felt like the Black characters in the book were never really fleshed out and Blackness in general played a role of authenticity/"noble savagery" for others' consumption. Uncomfortable.
Chavelli Sulikowska
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shockingly brilliant. While parts of this book made my stomach turn in disgust and blood boil with furious disbelief, it was an astoundingly clever story, well crafted and not-put-down-able! I look forward to reading more of Ozeki's work - My Year of Meats is evidence of her talent as an original voice of fiction. ...more
Shinji Moon
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
so sharp! so tangy. one of the best pieces of satirical fiction that i have read. ozeki does an incredible job of rippling the waters of the façade of media to show the humans behind all that we do. to show what "truth" really means to those who are in charge of creating our facts. ...more
If I could, I would make this compulsory reading for everyone. Beautiful and awful, tragic and splendid... I'm so sad it's over. ...more
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500 Great Books B...: My Year of Meats - Ruth Ozeki - Alexa 2 10 Jul 28, 2015 10:28AM  
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Ruth Ozeki (born in New Haven, Connecticut) is a Japanese American novelist. She is the daughter of anthropologist Floyd Lounsbury.

Ozeki published her debut novel, My Year of Meats, in 1998. She followed up with All Over Creation in 2003. Her new novel, A Tale for the Time Being, was published on March 12, 2013.

She is married to Canadian land artist Oliver Kellhammer, and the couple divides their

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