A brilliant, unforgettable, and long-awaited novel from bestselling author Ruth Ozeki “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.Learn More
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A New York Times bestseller
Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
Winner of the 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction
A 2013 Man Booker Prize Finalist
A 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Editor’s Choice
A Los Angeles Times bestseller
An NPR bestseller
A San Francisco Chronicle bestseller
A 2013 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
A 2013 Salon Best Book
A Barnes & Noble Best Book, March 2013
A 2014 Indies Choice Book Award Honoree for Adult Fiction
Selected for the March 2013 Indie Next List
A 2014 ALA Notable Book for Adult Ficiton
Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books, Best Fiction 2013
A 2013 BookPage Best Book
A 2013 Bookpage Most Anticipated Book
A BookPage Book of the Day, March 2013
A 2013 Booklist Editors’ Choice
An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2013
Big Novel, Big Questions
I was drawn to this audiobook initially because I typically like novels about Japanese life and culture. And after reading all of the hype about how great Ruth Ozeki’s newest novel was, I definitely had high expectations. “A Tale for Time Being” did not disappoint.
Philosophical, funny, surreal, and suspenseful, this novel manages to balance a mélange of genres and moods. The book is truly two stories—one about a Japanese school girl and the other about a middle-aged writer in Canada—that converge in the form of a Hello Kitty diary.
What really makes this novel is the story of Nao—a curious, defiant teenage girl who is planning, tragically (yet also, somehow, lightheartedly), her own suicide. Ozeki’s rendering of her is so real that I almost believed that Nao was living, breathing human being. And then there’s old “old Jiko”—Nao’s 104-year-old Zen Buddhist (and feminist) great-grandmother—who deserves a novel entirely unto herself.
The parallel story of Ruth—a novelist living on a remote island who discovers Nao’s diary washed up on shore—is also interesting, but it just doesn’t have the same vitality (hence the four stars).
It’s a big novel that asks big questions—reality, suicide, honor, religion, family, and, most poignantly, the interconnectivity between reader and writer. It’s a novel that makes you think—resurfacing here and there, long after finishing. And this, in my opinion, is a very good thing. A definite read for anyone who enjoys literary fiction or those interested in Japanese culture.
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