A Tale For The Time Being

Paperback | December 31, 2013

byRuth Ozeki

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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.

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From the Publisher

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 t...

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.

other books by Ruth Ozeki

The Face: A Time Code
The Face: A Time Code

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My Year Of Meats: A Novel
My Year Of Meats: A Novel

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see all books by Ruth Ozeki
Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8.24 × 5.24 × 1.13 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 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
Rated out of 5 by from Another fine piece of writing by Ruth Ozeki. A Tale For the Time Being is a tale for all beings. This book focuses on two central characters and the diary that connects them together through time and place. In her signature style Ms. Ozeki has done a superb job of weaving together a profound tale that explores the unique relationship between writer and reader. Nao the diary’s writer is a victim of intense and extreme bullying. She has made the decision to end her life but has committed herself to honour her great grandmother, a 104 year old Buddhist nun by chronicling her life story before doing so. Ruth the reader is a novelist struggling to regain her writing voice. She finds the diary one day washed up on the shorline of the remote British Columbia Island she currently resides on. As she reads further into the diary Ruth finds herself being pulled and drawn into Nao’s world. Through the reading of Nao’s words Ruth begins to find words she thought she had lost forever. Ruth not only finds herself connecting to Nao through the diary she finds herself connecting with her husband as well. As she reads to him aloud from the diary she draws him into this other world with her. As I read this book I felt myself being drawn deeper and deeper into the story. The more I read the harder it was for me to put the book down. I felt deeply connected to the story and the characters. This book masterfully binds the reader and writer together though the common threads of humanity. The book draws its strength from ancient Buddhist wisdom and powerfully reminds us of the interconnectness of all beings. I received an advance copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program and feel privileged to have been one of the first to read it. This is a book worth reading and I highly recommend it. I am confident it will be added to many must read lists for 2013. Make sure you add it to yours.
Date published: 2013-03-02

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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