A brilliant, unforgettable, and long-awaited novel from best-selling 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, 16-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 listener, 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.
©2013 Ruth Ozeki (P)2013 Penguin Audio
I haven't read Ruth Ozeki's first book, "My Year of Meats," but I certainly will now. Her writing is beautiful and completely engaging.
Although the first few moments of the book had me wondering about what I had gotten myself into as Nao introduced herself in her diary, but I kept going and I am really glad that I did. Nao and Ruth (the other main character--named for the book's author?) are both sympathetic and interesting characters. They are both struggling through hard situations in their lives and trying to figure out whether to make it through or to just give up. When fate connects them through the discovery of Nao's diary sealed inside a Hello Kitty lunch box inside a barnacled plastic bag that Ruth "happens" to find on the coast of Canada, their lives and stories become intertwined in interesting and surreal ways. The connection between Ruth as Nao's reader and Nao as Ruth's storyteller bridges both geographical distance as well as time.
I was sorry to reach the end of the story but very glad to have particpated in it--as a reader you definitely feel that you are part of what is happening as Ruth is part of what she reads from Nao's diary. In the end, the story, like the characters, seems to open up more possibilities than to close them and, as the reader, I knew this was a good thing--for everyone.
The premise of the Japanese girl's diary floating to shore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox is great. The story in the diary and especially the story of Ruth reading the diary, lacks direction or even the least interest.
Stigmatized and uninformed comments such as, "These ronin were scary dudes, kind of like what the homeless guys living under tarps in ... park might turn into if you gave them really sharp swords" make this book offensive. I've only listened to 1:18 of this book but there are multiple cynical remarks about suicide, and a reference to "shooters high on Zoloft."
My theory is that writers use material related to mental illness when they are short on ideas. They also assume they can write about homeless people or suicidal people based on their on common sense. Research is just for local color such as the maid bars in Tokyo.
Say something about yourself!
Perfect narration (beautifully done by the author) and great story! I would highly recommend this book. I've read or listened to it three times.
I was enthralled with the mystery and points of view in "A Tale for the Time Being". Listening to the author read the story added awhile other dimension that was quite enjoyable.
This story entwines three time periods (all modern) to tell the stories of an older middle aged (guessing at age), young man (19-20) and a teenage girl (16). Their stories interlock when a mysterious ziplock baggy arrives on the shore where the middle aged woman is beach combing, telling the story of the girl and her great uncle through various letters and diaries. Lots of interesting Japanese cultural references and some historical (WWII) info here. The character of the girl is very keen, interesting and pretty engaging. I just disn't get hooked. The older woman even less so, and the Uncle even less than that, a true pivotal secondary character. The story is well read and the reader's voice and Japanese are easy to listen to. Overall 3.8 story 3.5 performance 5.
I listened to the thoughtful ending three times...
Wow, it took me to so many places. Thank you for that.
I like the idea of the story, and the characters, but felt like she didn't know where to go with it. The last section was really just a bunch of rambling.
This book was great with a good comparison of depression across time, gender, culture, and ages. The author also does a good job using quantum physics in fiction.
I really enjoyed the parallel stories that finally converged in this book and the characters felt so nuanced and rich that they seemed real. I found myself wanting to know more about Japanese youth culture and ethnic customs after reading this.
The author also does a fantastic job narrating her own story. I really enjoyed her subtle shift in tone and inflection between characters rather than trying to over-act to distinguish.
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