• A Tale for the Time Being

  • By: Ruth Ozeki
  • Narrated by: Ruth Ozeki
  • Length: 14 hrs and 43 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (3,311 ratings)

Prime logo Prime members: New to Audible?
Get 2 free audiobooks during trial.
Pick 1 audiobook a month from our unmatched collection.
Listen all you want to thousands of included audiobooks, Originals, and podcasts.
Access exclusive sales and deals.
Premium Plus auto-renews for $14.95/mo after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
A Tale for the Time Being  By  cover art

A Tale for the Time Being

By: Ruth Ozeki
Narrated by: Ruth Ozeki
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $15.75

Buy for $15.75

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's summary

Short-listed, Man Booker International Prize

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

Critic reviews

“An exquisite novel: funny, tragic, hard-edged and ethereal at once.”—David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

“As contemporary as a Japanese teenager’s slang but as ageless as a Zen koan, Ruth Ozeki’s new novel combines great storytelling with a probing investigation into the purpose of existence. . . . She plunges us into a tantalizing narration that brandishes mysteries to be solved and ideas to be explored. . . . Ozeki’s profound affection for her characters makes A Tale for the Time Being as emotionally engaging as it is intellectually provocative.”—The Washington Post

“A delightful yet sometimes harrowing novel . . . Many of the elements of Nao’s story—schoolgirl bullying, unemployed suicidal ‘salarymen,’ kamikaze pilots—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. Ozeki takes on big themes . . . all drawn into the stories of two ‘time beings,’ Ruth and Nao, whose own fates are inextricably bound.”—The New York Times Book Review

Featured Article: Roll Out the Red Carpet for 2023's Award Season Listening Recommendations


Awards season is now upon us, with some of cinema's most gifted directors, actors, cinematographers, screenwriters, composers, costume and VFX artists, and beyond being rightly recognized for their talents and contributions to art and film over the past year. Here are some listening recommendations to keep you company while you place your bets on those winner brackets and plan that Best Picture-themed charcuterie board for your awards night soiree.