Ruth Ozeki on why menopause is the new adolescence

My guest this week is a novelist, film-maker - and Zen Buddhist priest. Ruth Ozeki was born in Conneticut in the 1950s to a Japanese mother and, as she puts it, caucasian anthropologist father. Despite always wanting to write, she didn’t publish her first novel until she was 40, because, in part, she “didn’t feel entitled to”. She needn’t have worried. That novel, My Year Of Meats, won the Kiriyama Prize and the American Book Award, and her third A Tale For The Time Being, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2013. Her latest novel, The Book Of Form And Emptiness, looks destined to go the same way.

But buddhism has informed Ruth’s life just as much as - if not more than - writing. She joined me to run the conversational gamut! We talked meditation, ageing, grief, living through the death of our parents, writing out her teenage mental health crises, why objects mean so much to us, the appeal of Marie Kondo, coming to terms with our ageing face and why menopause and adolescence have so much in common.

• You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at, including The Book Of Form And Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me!

The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.

See for privacy and opt-out information.