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A Tale for the Time Being Audiobook

A Tale for the Time Being

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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (1475 )
5 star
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4.5 (1334 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Milton 07-17-13
    Milton 07-17-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    51
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    "Ruth Ozeki (the author) is a SUPERB reader"
    What made the experience of listening to A Tale for the Time Being the most enjoyable?

    The author's performance was superb. She did a nice job with the voices without going over the top. In particular her voicing of Nao vs. Ruth allowed the listener to distinguish the two without being overly dramatic.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The concept of finding a diary washed up on shore and working through the life of the diarist was really fun.


    What about Ruth Ozeki’s performance did you like?

    Voicing of the characters


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Laughed in many places. Kinda awkward sitting on a plane with headphones on and laughing out loud.


    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A Reader 05-27-13
    A Reader 05-27-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    61
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    730
    24
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    "Mesmerizing"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    7 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hilary 02-02-14
    Hilary 02-02-14

    I heart audiobooks! Best way to "read"!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Author gets in her own story's way"

    This book is a story-inside-a-story. One is of "Ruth" -- the actual author -- who finds a Japanese teen girl's diary washed up on the shore of her remote Canadian island. Ruth, half Japanese herself, is struggling with writer's block and fixates on the diary (and the other items in the plastic bag with it, including a kamikazi pilot's watch.) The other story is of Noa, the Japanese teenager, who is contemplating suicide but first wants to tell the story of her Greatgrandmother, Zen Buddhist nun Jiko. Instead, Noa's diary is about herself, how she was born in America but now lives in social isolation in Japan, her equally suicidal father, and the life-journey her "Old Jiko" inspires. Ruth believes the diary is floatsam from the Japanese Tusnami and sets out to find out if Noa is real/alive.

    Noa's story is overall engrossing and emotional. At times even hard to listen to. But Ruth's story is a snooze. There are no "stakes" for Ruth, I never cared about her and I find the conceit to write a fake narrative about your real self to be pretty insufferable. Especially since she is totally unnecessary to tell Noa's story. Overall, Ruth's sections of the book don't even read real. She and her husband Oliver talk to each other like strangers. I have never heard two married people talk so formally and stiffly. I'm still shocked this was nominated for a Mann Booker prize based on how wooden Ruth's sections are.

    But here's the worse part: Noa's story is eventually hinged on some vague notion of "quantum physics" (???) and Zen ideals about time. Which might have been okay IF there wasn't a sudden, unneeded and off-putting mystical/supernatural element introduced into the plot about 3/4 of the way through. I almost stopped listening when (SPOILER ALERT) Ruth has this incredibly self-involved dream... than ends up saving Noa's life, in the diary! Oh, come on. I slogged through all of this so the author could go on a ego trip??

    The ending is vague, which I'm sure some people find "artsy" but I found a cop out.

    All that said, my biggest issue with this book is the author reads it herself!!! Ugh, I hate when authors do that except when they're professional actors, like Steve Martin or how Mindy Kalling or Tina Fey read their own books. Hey, author: I'm sure you had fun in drama club back in high school, but you're not a great actor. You really suck at doing voices, sometimes even your own! Sure, since Ruth Ozeki is half-Japanese, she pronounces all the Japanese words in the book perfectly. But any decent actor who knows Japanese could have done that! Ruth Ozeki's has no ability to bring the characters alive through her voice. Mostly, it was flat, and when it wasn't, she sounded stiff or over-done, like someone doing bad impressions of mutual friends.

    Please leave the book narration up to the professionals.

    8 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 11-21-13
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 11-21-13 Member Since 2008

    Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sad and disturbing yet thoroughly engrossing"

    This is a difficult book for me to review. First, let me say that it was always engrossing but not in a demanding sort of way. That is, I could listen at a leisurely pace and did not feel I had to race to find out the outcome. It was certainly not a feel-good type of book by any stretch of the imagination.

    The listening experience evoked many adjectives: sad, brutal, disturbing, puzzling, informative, and hopeful. I came to like the characters the longer I listened, and I became more and more interested in the Japanese cultural practices. However, I was very disturbed at the bullying which was a huge part of the story, both by Nao's schoolmates and the uncle's superior officers. The war atrocities described sickened me--the only saving grace was that the book was being read to me, and I could not linger very long on what was being described. The theme of suicide played a big role in this story, frighteningly so. Then, I became confused at the element of fantasy that was brought into the story--and the very strange way the author attempted to justify its relevance (Schrodinger's Cat!). I also was a bit put off by the easy way the ending was so easily turned around to make it hopeful and pleasant.

    So, you can see I did not love many facets of the story. Yet, I am giving it a good rating and I hope I do not deter anyone from choosing to read it. This is a very unique, different sort of story that stretches the reader's imagination in very different ways, perhaps due to such different cultural issues.

    I want to add that the author did a spectacular narration, which certainly added to the listening experience and to my high rating.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jehane Oakland, CA 05-31-17
    Jehane Oakland, CA 05-31-17 Member Since 2015
    ratings
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    3
    1
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    "Best audiobook I've ever listened to"

    I felt so connected to Nao, as if she were talking to me. Such an intimate reading experience, profoundly beautiful and sorrowful, yet also hilarious. Ozeki narrates & does a brilliant job voicing each character. She could have a second career as a voice actor. I love this book which links together so many times. This book becomes a living thing when you read it. enjoy!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sofie 05-17-17
    Sofie 05-17-17 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    5
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    Performance
    Story
    "hard book to read...lots of different emotions"

    Glad I got through this book. It was a struggle due to the emotional roller coaster ride.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tammy 05-17-17
    tammy 05-17-17 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    22
    3
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    "Bound Together Book Club"

    Masterfully crafted with many layers ! Fabulous book. Truly a wonderful telling. I highly recommend and loved listening to Ruth's reading and bring the characters to life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon Mckay 05-11-17 Member Since 2017
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "unexpected and suspenseful"

    I enjoyed the story and creative and educational nature in which it was written. Excellent!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kerwin & Kerwin Seattle, Wa. 04-11-17
    Kerwin & Kerwin Seattle, Wa. 04-11-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Story
    "Half a 4 star, half a 2 ... overall 3 stars"

    The beginning really pulled me in and I looked forward to spending time lost in the journey of Nao. However alas the sections of Ruth felt long and interruptive and I found it difficult to endure. Would have preferred shorter Ruth sections and wished I had skipped the weird dream sequences. On a positive note, the author reads the audiobook version and does a very good job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Proud Palisadian 03-01-17 Member Since 2017

    showarth@tbgwest.com

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
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    33
    15
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    0
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    "Two Tales Woven Together"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I'm not sure if I would. It was a slow and deliberate story -- very cerebral -- and that's not typically the type of book that captivates me. That said, Ruth Ozeki's performance of the book was excellent.


    Any additional comments?

    This tale for the Time-Being is actually two tales, woven together: of Ruth in current day British Columbia and Nao, a Japanese teenager who grew up in Sunnyvale California but has now moved back to Tokyo with her family. Listening to the book on Audible was especially interesting because the author, Ruth Ozeki, was also the narrator, which added layers of interpretation to her reading.

    The story of Nao -- and her great Uncle Haruki #1, who died as a kamikaze pilot in WWII, in spite of his pacifist Buddhist views -- intertwines with Ruth's story as a result of finding a lost diary (carefully preserved in layer of plastic freezer bags) on the beach in BC.

    The plot of the story is very subtle -- mostly we are invited to understand Ruth and Nao, and Nao's father. However, some elements of what happens to Nao left me wondering why they were necessary to her story; some of these elements were never particularly explained. In the later chapters, dreams become real and one isn't entirely certain of where reality lies. But then as Nao's great grandmother Jico would say, "Up... down... all the same."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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