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My Year of Meat [Paperback]

Ruth L. Ozeki
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 May 1999
Jane Takagi-Little produces a Japanese television show on all-American meat cooking. Akiko Ueno learns more than just recipes from Jane's programmes. In one parallel year, the lives of two women at opposite ends of the earth are brought together in a novel of meat, TV and personal crisis.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; New edition edition (7 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330368451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330368452
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 11.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 766,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

At first glance, a novel that promises to expose the unethical practices of the American meat industry may not be at the top of your reading list, but Ruth Ozeki's debut, My Year of Meatsis well worth a second look. Like the author, the novel's protagonist, Jane Takagi-Little, is a Japanese-American documentary filmmaker; like Ozeki, who was once commissioned by a beef lobbying group to make television shows for the Japanese market, Jane is invited to work on a Japanese television show meant to encourage beef consumption via the not-so-subliminal suggestion that prime rib equals a perfect family:
FROM: Tokyo Office
DATE: January 5, 1991
RE: My American Wife!...
Here is list of IMPORTANT THINGS for My American Wife!.
1. Attractiveness, wholesomeness, warm personality
2. Delicious meat recipe (NOTE: Pork and other meats is second class meats, so please remember this easy motto: "Pork is Possible, but Beef is Best!")
3. Attractive, docile husband
4. Attractive, obedient children
5. Attractive, wholesome lifestyle
6. Attractive, clean house...
1. Physical imperfections
2. Obesity
3. Squalor
4. Second class peoples
The series, My American Wife!, initially seems like a dream come true for Jane as she criss-crosses the United States filming a different American family each week for her Japanese audience. Naturally, the emphasis is on meat, and Ozeki has fun with bizarre recipes such as rump roast in coke and beef fudge; but as Jane becomes more familiar with her subject, she becomes increasingly aware of the beef industry's widespread practice of using synthetic oestrogens on their cattle and determines to sabotage the programme.

Cut to Tokyo where Akiko Ueno struggles through the dull misery of life with her brutish husband, who happens to be in charge of the show's advertising. After seeing one of Jane's subversive episodes about a vegetarian lesbian couple, Akiko gets in touch and the two women plot to expose the meat industry's hazardous practices. Romance, humour, intrigue, and even a message--My Year of Meats has it all. This is a book that even a vegetarian would love. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'I had started my year as a documentarian. I wanted to tell the truth, to effect change, to make a difference. And up to a point, I had succeeded... I am haunted by all the things - big things and little things - that threaten to slip through the cracks, untold, out of history.' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I found this book unputdownable. This story follows Jane Takagi-Little's Year of Meat as she puts together a weekly television show for Japanese audiences promoting the so called 'wholesomeness' and healthiness of American meat, in particular beef. At the same time we follow a Japanese housewife's sad life in Tokyo and how she is changed by this show which she is told to watch by her brutal, dreadful husband. It sounds like an unlikely story to be riveted by, but I promise, it really is.
A friend of mine recommended this book to me as I have been, for the last 18 months or so, eating only organic food. I had been told about the hormones and antibiotics present in non-organic meat and dairy products, but didn't realise I knew so little about it until I read My Year of Meat. Having been a dedicated carnivore for most of my 32 years, I am now seriously considering turning totally vegetarian.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is primarily the story of Jane Takagi-Little; half-American, half-Japanese; documentary-maker and modern woman. Jane becomes the director of a Japanese TV series called 'My American Wife', made for the Japanese market and sponsored by meat company BEEF-EX. It features meat dishes made by many and varied women, all of whom leave their mark on Jane in different ways. Despite objections from the executive in charge in Tokyo, Joichi Ueno (nickname John - geddit?!), Jane widens the scope of the programme, and starts to uncover a sinister trail of information about meat production in the USA. Joichi, for his part, a bully and wife-beater, tries to stop Jane revealing more of her discoveries, and his wife Akiko, desperate to have a baby, bears the brunt of his frustration. Add to this mix a sexy musician lover, a crazy camera crew and some lovely minor characters, and the end result is a tasty meal, one to get your teeth into - laugh, cry and flinch at some of the reality that is revealed. The way Jane and the others search for personal freedom and honesty in their lives and the meat industry is fascinating. A fabulous book - I recommend it to everyone.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sizzling! A cross-cultural treat. 16 July 2001
By A Customer
This book is more about culture and femininity than it is about meat, although the meat, like the sex, is a tantalizing treat that keeps reappearing; at times satisfying, at other times revolting. As an American who lives in Japan, I was particularly impressed with Ozeki's ability to show America through the eyes of her Japanese characters to whom concepts like infidelity and lesbianism have very different meanings than they do to Westerners. Ozeki isn't afraid to go against trendy American politically-correct sensibilities. This is both brave and necessary. When dealing with cross-cultural communication, cultural faux pas and misinterpretations are inevitable, and not to include them would be a cheat. Ozeki demonstrates her insight into the differences between Japanese and American culture, and through that, and through the relationship troubles of her two protagonists, a Japanese woman and an American woman, we can also find out what makes us all the same. I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book left me with two overwheliming emotions. One, a deep admiration for Ruth L Ozeki who comes across from these pages as sensitive, intelligent and comitted to her ideal (and from the liner photo appears to be something of a fox too), and secondly, a sneaking suspicion that I didn't want to be a carnivore any more.
Ruth made me reconsider a lifetime's habit that I knew to be questionable from a health point of view by resolutely refusing to preach to me about the moral aspects of eating meat. She appealed to my good, old-fashioned self interest.
But to concentrate on this aspect of the book is to ignore it for what it is... a heartwarming story that juxtaposes the differences between american and Japanese cultures in an easy to comprehend, easy to read, and easy to enjoy way. It has a sprinkling of romance, a little rebellion, and a lot of information about meat production and factory farming techniques.
It changed my life... and while I doubt that I'll ever become a vegitarian, I haven't eaten beef since I read it, nor pork. Or lamb...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One to recommend to all your friends 3 July 2006
I was unexpectedly impressed with this book. From when I first picked it up I could not put this book down and have since gone on to search out other titles by the author, little realising this was a debut novel. The almost Feudal society in Japan is not patronised or deprecated but merely presented as it is. The mid-American society is also presented in an open manner. Each society has positive and negative aspects, and neither is stereotypical. In fact stereotypes are broken down, if a character appears to be two-dimensional further reading and character development soon makes this disappear. This book is a must for anyone who wants to read characters they can care about in societies they want to learn about regarding issues they need to know about. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars assured and pacey 11 Mar 2004
By Is
A book with a message? That could have had me - and probably many others - legging it in the opposite direction. I'm glad that I didn't, for this is no earnest veganism manifesto screaming of wellington boots, piercings and birdseed musli. Ruth L Ozeki tackles her meaty (haha!) topic heads-on, in a pacey, agreeable style. Her language is simple but assured, and the characters never fail to engage. Especially the no-nonsense voice of Jane, the Japanese-American film-maker at the heart of the story, comes across as compelling and believable. Jane is supposed to be an aspiring documentary-maker - and that's just what Ruth L. Ozeki seems to be herself. This is fiction that seems to be fact, not necessarily because of Ozeki's investigation of the meat industry (hey, I don't know what's true or not) but because of her investigation of the minds of people. Is this really a debut novel? It's really impressive that Ozeki has found such a confident voice already.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My Year of Meat
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for many different reasons. It made me think and see beyond the surface. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Steph Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely read
After finishing Ruth Ozeki's latest novel, 'A Tale for the Time Being', I felt bereft and was looking for consolation on Amazon. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Miss J. E. Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought
This book was a complete discovery, the subject is at times fairly serious but the author treats it with a certain lightness which makes it all the more enjoyable. Read more
Published on 24 April 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Contrived, naive and simplistic
This book looked so appealing. The premise was fantastic, the cover was funky. And I'm a vegetarian too. Read more
Published on 23 July 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read in a long, long time.
The book covers so many topics, the two heroines, the American meat industry, Americans, Japanese, relationships. And it is so well written, this writer really knows her stuff.
Published on 31 May 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS A DEFINATE "MUST READ"
To begin with I was slightly put off by the title, but as soon as I started to read the first chapter I found it very difficult to put this book down. Read more
Published on 28 May 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars WICKED!
I am only twelve but I loved this book, because it is so well written, but when I told my class mates about it they just laughed at me because of the title. Read more
Published on 27 Jan 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book
This book is so well written and takes you to places you don't expect it to when you start reading. It's unusual title might put some people off buying this book - but I cannot... Read more
Published on 24 Jun 1999
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