A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth OzekiA Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

A Tale For The Time Being

byRuth Ozeki

Paperback | December 31, 2013

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On a remote island in the Pacific Northwest, a Hello Kitty lunchbox washes up on the beach. Tucked inside is a collection of curious items, including the diary of a sixteenyear-old Japanese girl named Nao Yasutani. Ruth, who finds the lunchbox, suspects that it is debris from Japan’s devastating 2011 tsunami. Once Ruth starts to read the diary, she quickly finds herself drawn into the mystery of the young girl’s fate.

In a manga café in Tokyo’s Electric Town, Nao has decided there’s only one escape from the loneliness and pain of her life, as she’s uprooted from her U.S. home, bullied at school, and watching her parents spiral deeper into disaster. But before she ends it all, she wants to accomplish one thing: to recount the story of her great-grandmother, a 104-year-old Zen Buddhist nun, in the pages of her diary. The diary, Nao’s only solace, is her cry for help to a reader she can only imagine.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and insight, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

RUTH OZEKI is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Shambhala Sun, and More, among other publications. In June 2010, she was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City.
Title:A Tale For The Time BeingFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8.5 × 5.3 × 1 inPublished:December 31, 2013Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143187422

ISBN - 13:9780143187424

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from STUNNING A soaring achievement. I was reluctant to read this book -- it seemed daunting to me. But once you read the first page you will be hooked right to the end as you read into time and relationships and life and death and culture. I cannot say enough about this amazing book. One of my all-time favourities for sure, if not my ABSOLUTE favourite.
Date published: 2018-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this unusual and compelling book This was a fabulous read. Took a while to get all the players but when I did, I was hooked.
Date published: 2017-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quiet and complex I really really loved this book. the contrast of experience between the two main characters was really well done and lent to a novel that wasn't overwhelming in plot points or story lines. the addition of footnotes made it feel very real.
Date published: 2017-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mystical and beautiful The switches back and forth between a young girl's experiences and suffering in Japan and a woman's quiet life on the west coast of North America are jolting, but oh so effective. Nao leads a life in Japan that I as a reader initially could not identify with at all, but gradually she becomes a character that is fleshed out and beloved. There are Zen Buddhist, time/space travelling, spiritual, mystical elements that just add to the overall charm of the book. Easily the best fictional work I've read this year!
Date published: 2017-10-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful. The details of Time Being are all gorgeous and sensory: but the passages told from Ruth's perspectives never quite engage with the reader as Nao's do.
Date published: 2017-10-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh This book is okay, kind of mediocre. There were some passages that I could really relate to though
Date published: 2017-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great style I love the style the author used. Great story
Date published: 2017-09-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Connections through space and time What connects us through time and space is at the heart of A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. It connects the story of a young Japanese girl told through her diary and a Japanese-American novelist reading that diary on the isolated Cortes Island of British Columbia. Both are outsiders - the girl who wrote the diary spent her formative years in the States so she's culturally more American than Japanese. The novelist is from the big city and living on a remote island. But mostly this is about both of them discovering what makes themselves tick. And what drives us forward as human beings - and threatens us as individuals in a society. The book is fantastic for its story and for its glimpses into Japanese culture -- especially Japanese Buddhism. While the majority of it is firmly rooted in realism, near the end more and more magic creeps into the story. All in all it's a thought provoking and entertaining read that shows we can be connected through time and space - and that can help us survive and thrive.
Date published: 2017-09-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lots to ponder, good book club selection Nao is at the beginning of her life and she has lost hope, is aimless. Ruth has passed most of her life and she is adrift. Both are writers, Nao at her first story and Ruth at possibly her final. When Ruth first realizes she has found a diary, she is curious about it's writer. As she continues to read, she gets pulled into the writer, Nao's life. Soon the time line becomes blurred and Ruth begins doubting herself and her memory. This is a story full of choices and their consequences. (ripple effect). Time is a also a frequent topic for both Nao and Ruth. The first has chosen to limit her remaining time while the later ponders how much she has remaining. Nao's great-grandmother has had the most time of them all, 104 years, which she had learned to use to the benefit of mankind. She was my favourite character in the book . She seemed so wise and knew the best approach to use with Nao. At various times while I was listening to this audio book, I experienced widely ranging emotions. I felt compassion for Nao and her trials at school. I was annoyed with Ruth for her dithering over her writing. Often I was confused, wondering how the author could possibly tie together the two women's very different stories. This would be a good book club selection as there are a number of areas I am unclear about that could benefit from discussion. One of the things that intrigues me about this book, is that the author is a character in the story. That adds more to my pondering of the time and place of this tale. I listened to the unabridged audio book as read by the author. She did a wonderful job voicing the characters, particularly old Jiko, the great-grandmother. Blackstone Audio 14 hours 43 minutes. The author's end notes in the audio version indicate that the printed version contains additional supplementary materials. #IndigoEmployee
Date published: 2017-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting I bought this book about a year ago. I wasn't originally going to but the first chapter really draws you in. It was really interesting reading about the stories of Ruth and Nao, being able to understand their thoughts and feelings about certain things.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best books I have ever read A fascinating novel that ties together life in a small community in British Columbia with Japanese pop culture, Buddhism, WWII, ocean garbage, Quantum Physics, the 2011Tsunami, suicide and ornithology. The characters are engaging and story is gripping, intense, and full of humour. I loved how the novel so naturally wove together so many different elements without ever seeming off topic. I also loved how the characters in the novel stop to question and analyze events as they unfold. This is a book you will remember for a long time after reading it.
Date published: 2017-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So worth it! The first fifty or so pages of Nao and Ruth's time twisting, intersecting story was a little slow for me so it was hard to get into at first. I'm glad I kept at it, though! The story is so gripping and very intense--so incredibly invocative and thoughtful. This makes you delve deep into parts of yourself you never thought you'd find, and I noticed I was really contemplating my own life's trajectory while reading about Jiko, our ancient Buddhist nun and great-grandmother to Nao, the heroine who wants to end her own life after her family moves back to Japan following the dot-com bubble burst in California. This is so much deeper than just that summary: Nao's diary, along with a watch and mysterious letters wash up in a water tight bag on Ruth's beach in BC following the Fukushima meltdown and tsunami of 2011. Ruth, an author herself and struggling with aspects of her own life and thoughts, finds the diary and is sucked into the devastating, heartbreaking, hilarious, and incredibly moving life of Nao and her relatives. When you get into this, you'll power through it so be prepared to clear your schedule!
Date published: 2017-02-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Gripping and heartbreaking This book gets pretty intense, I have to say. I loved the story and the characters. The writing was great.
Date published: 2017-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not too many English language novels feature an elderly Buddhist nun A skillful exploration of the intertwined lives of three women: a Japanese teenager, her Buddhist nun grandmother, and a writer on a beautiful but isolated island off the coast of British Columbia. A must read for anyone looking for a poignant but not at all sentimental read.
Date published: 2017-01-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed Feeings Overall, this book was well-written and very interesting. However, as with any book with two narrators, I preferred one over the other. Nao's story engrossed me. At her parts, I could hardly put the book down. I found myself relating to her and wanting to know more. At Ruth's parts, I couldn't wait to be finished. I almost wanted to skip her sections entirely—I found them boring and unneededly interjected. I almost considered stopping the book when their two stories began to merge. I feel like the entire novel would have been a much stronger piece if comprised of Nao's sections alone. However, I understand that the ending would have likely been a lot different. Read at your own discretion. Decide if the haunting beauty of Nau is worth the bore of Ruth.
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from but memories are time beings, too, like cherry blossoms or ginkgo leaves; for a while they are beautiful, and then they fade and die. i highly recommend this book to anyone who has their hands on it. it’s a long read, but it’s quite interesting and engrossing. it’s not a story that’s full of an intense and powerful climax, but the general aspect of the story is very strong and it pulls you in. all of the characters and scenes are crafted beautifully and the placement of each scene and doings of a character is perfectly put in place. highly recommend!
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great summer reading sitting on my shelf for a long time, this summer it felt right to pick it up and read through it. This is the kind of the book that calms me down - no exciting up and downs but let the story develop through almost flat narratives - flat but meaningfully complex, emotionally healing - typical Japanese narratives. The first half was slow and almost dull. The author really takes time to develop the storyline; the second half paces up and becomes intriguing. The book is intricate with east Asian culture as well as the author's profound understanding of Zen Buddhism. I wasn't able to fully appreciate the subtlety and the originality of the plot conception until the very end. You read about death (another topic recurring in Japanese literature) but really, the story is about living - le mal du vivre, qu'il faut bien vivre - life is painful, but we must solider on. It's a marvellous journey of self discovery and thus a thought-provoking book. If you are more into dystopia/vampire/zombie/heroic characters kind of stuff, then this book may not be for you. But if you've experienced the pain of life and enjoy some quiet personal time, you may find this book a are company.
Date published: 2015-08-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from the power of Nao I enjoyed reading A Tale for the Time Being.  It was a long read for me (I prefer books of less than 300 pages) but worth the time.   I could relate to the life of Ruth and Oliver on Cortez Island (BC) yet it was the story of Nao and her family in Japan that really drew me into the book. The bullying that Nao endures at the hands of her classmates and her father/Haruki's mental despair paint a dark and painful picture of this 'returned' Japanese family. I initially found it difficult to understand how Ruth's discovery on the other side of the Pacific could change this sad situation.  But then a great-grandmother Zen nun and quantum mechanics come into play. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Nao and her great-grandmother. It was comforting and encouraging.  I plan to give this book to my daughters.  
Date published: 2014-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Japan revealed in a truly novel way Brilliant book from beginning to end. Set in Japan and British Columbia, now and in the recent past and during the second World War. Wonderful insights into Japanese culture and Zen and a fascinating depiction of the mind of a teenage Japanese girl. A plot that keeps you reading and beautifully drawn characters. One of the best, maybe the best book I have read all year!
Date published: 2013-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Tale for the Time Being This was an amazingly written novel with a unique and captivating storyline. The novel follows the life of a woman living in BC and a young girl living in Japan. It brings these two stories together in the most interesting way, dealing with tradition and modernism and the similarities and differences between two cultures. It was an absolute pleasure to read and I often had a hard time putting it down at the end of the night. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2013-07-03

Editorial Reviews

“Masterfully woven. Entwining Japanese language with WWII history, pop culture with Proust, Zen with quantum mechanics, Ozeki alternates between the voices of two women to produce a spellbinding tale.” - O, The Oprah Magazine