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My Year of Meat Paperback – 7 May 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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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 (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,477,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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:

TO: AMERICAN RESEARCH STAFF
FROM: Tokyo Office
DATE: January 5, 1991
RE: My American Wife!...
Here is list of IMPORTANT THINGS for My American Wife!.
DESIRABLE THINGS:
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...
UNDESIRABLE THINGS:
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.

Review

aA smart and compelling novel about a world we donat realize we live in.a
aMichael Pollan

"A smart and compelling novel about a world we don't realize we live in."
-Michael Pollan



praise and="" em="" for="" ozeki="" ruth="">Praise for Ruth Ozeki and My Year of Meats "Ozeki is one of my favorite novelists . . . bewitching, intelligent, hilarious, and heartbreaking, often on the same page."-Junot D az, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of This Is How You Lose Her "In precise and luminous prose, Ozeki captures both the sweep and detail of our shared humanity. The result is gripping, fearless, inspiring and true."-Madeline Miller, author of the Orange Prize winner The Song of Achilles "Wonderfully wild and bracing . . . A feast that leaves you hungry for whatever Ozeki cooks up next."-Newsweek "My Year of Meats pulsates with passion. . . . Ozeki's first novel detonates an attack on the meat industry that would make Upton Sinclair sit up and smile . . . yet all this energy doesn't obscure the novel's quirky charm."-USA Today "Ruth Ozeki masks a deeper purpose with a light tone . . . A comical-satirical-farcical-epical-tragical-romantical novel."-Jane Smiley, Chicago Tribune "An amazingly assured debut, My Year of Meats is a wonderfully irreverent novel, with wacky cross-cultural collisions and hilarious characters . . . a joy to read."-Elle "Ozeki offers a remarkably fresh view of the rocky road many women travel to love and motherhood . . . one of the heartiest, and, yes, meatiest debuts in years."-Glamour "Romance, agri-business, self-discovery, cross-cultural misunderstanding-it takes a talent like Ruth Ozeki's to blend all these ingredients beautifully together. My Year of Meats is a sensitive and compelling portrait of two modern women."-Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha "Canny, cunning, muckraking, and lusty, weaving hormones and corporate threats, fertility and independence."-The Village Voice "A likeably odd and inventively imagined tale . . . Ozeki writes with the same over-the-top verve as fellow hyper-realist David Foster Wallace."-Detroit Free Press praise>

praise and="" em="" for="" ozeki="" ruth=""Praise for Ruth Ozeki and "My Year of Meats"
Ozeki is one of my favorite novelists . . . bewitching, intelligent, hilarious, and heartbreaking, often on the same page.
Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of "This Is How You Lose Her"
In precise and luminous prose, Ozeki captures both the sweep and detail of our shared humanity. The result is gripping, fearless, inspiring and true.
Madeline Miller, author of the Orange Prize winner "The Song of Achilles"
Wonderfully wild and bracing . . . A feast that leaves you hungry for whatever Ozeki cooks up next.
" Newsweek"
"My Year of Meats" pulsates with passion. . . . Ozeki s first novel detonates an attack on the meat industry that would make Upton Sinclair sit up and smile . . . yet all this energy doesn t obscure the novel s quirky charm.
" USA Today"
Ruth Ozeki masks a deeper purpose with a light tone . . . A comical-satirical-farcical-epical-tragical-romantical novel.
Jane Smiley, "Chicago Tribune"
An amazingly assured debut, "My Year of Meats "is a wonderfully irreverent novel, with wacky cross-cultural collisions and hilarious characters . . . a joy to read.
" Elle"
Ozeki offers a remarkably fresh view of the rocky road many women travel to love and motherhood . . . one of the heartiest, and, yes, meatiest debuts in years.
" Glamour"
Romance, agri-business, self-discovery, cross-cultural misunderstanding it takes a talent like Ruth Ozeki s to blend all these ingredients beautifully together. "My Year of Meats "is a sensitive and compelling portrait of two modern women.
Arthur Golden, author of "Memoirs of a Geisha"
Canny, cunning, muckraking, and lusty, weaving hormones and corporate threats, fertility and independence.
" The Village Voice"
A likeably odd and inventively imagined tale . . . Ozeki writes with the same over-the-top verve as fellow hyper-realist David Foster Wallace.
" Detroit Free Press"praise" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I had never heard of the Japanese/American/Canadian novelist Ruth Ozeki before delightedly coming across her Booker shortlisted novel A Tale for the Time Being. I am now working through her hardly even handful of earlier titles

Like Time Being, My Year Of Meats, also published at one time as My Year Of Meat, is told in two voices, a hybrid American Japanese one, living in America, and a Japanese one, in Japan.

The Japanese voice is that of Akiko, a woman suffering hugely in a culture which is part way its own history, but also being bent and bending itself, into American obsession. The second voice is Jane, a version of Ozeki herself, a Westernised independent woman of Japanese American birth, born in the USA, who nevertheless is `hybrid' and therefore, whilst seeing herself as American, is viewed partly as outsider from both cultures, and indeed views both cultures from the outside.

Jane Tagaki-Little is a documentary film maker. The Beef Industry, keen to spread its markets more globally, is producing a series of real-life documentaries which are designed to sell more meat, and persuade Japanese people to `cook more American' exchanging a largely fish diet for one containing huge slabs of cow. The production company has to sell the product by selling the (artificial, air-brushed) corn-fed blonde view of the American family. The highlight of each programme in My American Wife involves cooking the slab of cow in some way, for example - in a tin of mushroom soup, rolled in dried onion soup after marinating in Coca-Cola (not Pepsi-Cola)

The programmes are car-crash rubberneckingly awful, and hysterically funny - Oprah confessional style, all at once.
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Format: Paperback
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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As with other books by Ruth Ozeki, this story covers a number of themes including the factory farming of animals and the health problems for those who consume meat reared in this way. It also contrasts food culture in Japan and in the USA. The characters are well 'fleshed' out and the reader can empathise with them. I couldn't put the book down until I'd finished it.
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Ruth Ozeki draws on her experiences as a TV documentary maker in this rich novel about the hormones in women, men and meat.

It's always hard to categorize Ozeki's books, since they contain so many themes, from hard-edge to soft-core. The multitude of themes is also one of the weaknesses of her novels, making them somewhat diffuse. Another disappointment is her penchant for rounding off stories; the pat conclusions and neat endings to so many tragic beginnings dilute the messages she strives so hard to communicate. The novel veers somewhat unnervingly from ghastly realism to rose-tinted romance.

But as always, her commitment to a cause shines through -- and in this novel, it is the abuses perpetrated on the public by the American meat industry through the hormones, antibiotics and other contaminants that have entered the food chain and the human population, with catastrophic consequences for all of us. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the characters in the novel wind up vegetarians! And all suffer from hormonal problems -- male hormones that produce aggression and violence, female hormones that should produce fertility, but veer hopelessly in unexpected directions. Visceral, often bloody, but always gripping, as hormones are wont to be.

The great strength of the book is that it's insanely readable, pulling you along from episode to episode. Ozeki is a fabulous communicator. I couldn't wait to get back to reading it, and I highly recommend it to everybody.
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Format: Paperback
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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