A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

71%

8 Critic Reviews

As we read Nao's story and the story of Ozeki's reading of it...time expands for us. It opens up onto something resembling narrative eternity...Page after page, slowly unfolding. And what a beautiful effect that is for a novel to create.
-NPR

Synopsis

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.  
 

About Ruth Ozeki

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RUTH OZEKI, author of My Year of Meats and All Over Creation, 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.
 
Published March 12, 2013 by Penguin Books. 433 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for A Tale for the Time Being
All: 8 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 3

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Lesley Downer on May 10 2013

Many of the elements of Nao’s story...are among a Western reader’s most familiar images of Japan, but in Nao’s telling, refracted through Ruth’s musings, they become fresh and immediate, occasionally searingly painful.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Lisa Schwarzbaum on Apr 01 2013

...may prove exasperating to those readers who, like this only very occasional meditator, respond more naturally to the sensation of moving on — with a book plot or with life — than to that of sitting still, just being.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Liz Jensen on Mar 15 2013

Ozeki's novel often feels more like the great Pacific gyre it frequently evokes: a vast, churning basin of mental flotsam in which Schrödinger's cat, quantum mechanics...six appendices all jostle for attention. It's an impressive amount of stuff.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Mar 13 2013

As we read Nao's story and the story of Ozeki's reading of it...time expands for us. It opens up onto something resembling narrative eternity...Page after page, slowly unfolding. And what a beautiful effect that is for a novel to create.

Read Full Review of A Tale for the Time Being | See more reviews from NPR

NY Journal of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans on Mar 12 2013

...Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being is one of the best novels of 2013—and will surely inhabit that position for years to come.

Read Full Review of A Tale for the Time Being | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Lucy Silag on Mar 29 2013

...A Tale for the Time Being does eventually offer a satisfying resolution to both Ruth (hazy, faith-based and deeply cerebral) and the reader...

Read Full Review of A Tale for the Time Being | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Nancy Wigston on Mar 08 2013

As Ozeki’s narrative grows more than a little wonky — like Google on a bad day — we encounter bizarre twists like disappearing words and time travel via dream states.

Read Full Review of A Tale for the Time Being | See more reviews from Toronto Star

National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Mar 22 2013

...the novel suffers from a tinge of self satisfaction. It pits sensitive souls like the involuntary kamikaze pilot who loves French literature against brutal army officers, and it’s not a fair fight.

Read Full Review of A Tale for the Time Being | See more reviews from National Post arts

Reader Rating for A Tale for the Time Being
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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

Anna van Vree

Anna van Vree 5 Sep 2013

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Terri McGinty 5 Sep 2013

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