A brilliant, unforgettable novel from bestselling author Ruth Ozeki—shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award
“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A Japanese teenager named Nao sits in a Tokyo cafe writing in her journal about the merciless teasing she endures at school, her nuclear family’s unravelling—and the life story of her 104-year-old grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s her only ally. While out for a stroll, Ruth, a novelist living on an isolated island off Canada’s British Columbia coast, stumbles across a barnacle-encrusted bag containing Nao’s diary. Ruth Ozeki, the fantastically creative author of My Year of Meats, has penned another alluring and intelligent novel constructed with the wondrous precision of wooden nesting dolls. As it alternates between the voices of two women from very different worlds, A Tale for the Time Being tells a spellbinding story about the anguish of losing the things that matter most and the comfort of human connection.
Ozeki s absorbing third novel (after All Over Creation) is an extended meditation on writing, time, and people in time: time beings. Nao Yasutani is a Japanese schoolgirl who plans to drop out of time to kill herself as a way of escaping her dreary life. First, though, she intends to write in her diary the life story of her great-grandmother Jiko, a Zen Buddhist nun. But Nao actually ends up writing her own life story, and the diary eventually washes up on the shore of Canada s Vancouver Island, where a novelist called Ruth lives. Ruth finds the diary in a freezer bag with some old letters in French and a vintage watch. Ruth s investigation into how the bag traveled from Japan to her island, and why it contains what it does, alternates with Nao s chapters. The characters lives are finely drawn, from Ruth s rustic lifestyle to the Yasutani family s straitened existence after moving from Sunnyvale, Calif., to Tokyo. Nao s winsome voice contrasts with Ruth s intellectual ponderings to make up a lyrical disquisition on writing s power to transcend time and place. This tale from Ozeki, a Zen Buddhist priest, is sure to please anyone who values a good story broadened with intellectual vigor.
Customer ReviewsSee All
An unusual read
This creative novel is most thought provoking.
There are likely other worlds on how to be in time or outside time. The narrative engages the reader throughout the narrative. Strongly recommended. Charles
A Tale for the Time Being
Ruth Ozeki has written an intriguing interplay and clashing of the Japanese spiritual/cultural world with the physical realities of living 'now' with an American understanding of life and with the interconnectedness of questioning physics theories as applicable to daily living experiences.
Not for the faint of heart. A highly taxing meandering and claustrophobic story. It's like staring at a moment in time that is stuck and goes no where. If u have such moments to waste on words that never end then it's for U. One of the most uncompelling books I've read in while. So much talented energy for nothing.
Maybe that's the Zen of it all