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Nao lives in Tokyo. She is sixteen, and has decided to write a diary before she kills herself. She has plenty of material–school bullies, depressed parents–but she particularly wants to chronicle the life of her great-grandmother, Jiko, a Buddhist nun. And eventually, Nao thinks, her diary will find its reader.
Ruth lives with her husband on the Pacific coast of Canada. A few months after the 2010 tsunami she finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore. It contains a diary…
‘This is the simple story of a girl, her great-grandmother and the novelist who becomes enthralled with their tale. But this simple story draws from the deep currents of our times, from quantum physics, Japanese ghost tales, suicide trends, first-person accounts of kamikaze fighters during World War II, thirteenth-century Buddhist texts and recent pop culture. It is a meditation on impermanence, and the intimate relationship between past and present, fact and fiction, and time and text.’ Ruth Ozeki
‘A Tale for the Time Being is a timeless story. Ruth Ozeki beautifully renders not only the devastation of the collision between man and the natural world, but also the often miraculous results of it. She is a deeply intelligent and humane writer who offers her insight with a grace that beguiles. I truly love this novel.’
‘A Tale for the Time Being is an extraordinary novel about a courageous young woman, riven by loneliness, by Time and (ultimately) by Tsunami. Nao is an inspired narrator and her quest to tell her great grandmother’s story, to connect with her past, with the world is both aching and true. Ozeki is one of my favorite novelists and here she is at her absolute best—bewitching intelligent hilarious and heartbreaking, often on the same page…A Tale for the Time Being is one of those novels that will renew your faith in literature.’
‘Ingenious and touching, A Tale for the Time Being is also highly readable. And interesting: the contrast of cultures is especially well done. I greatly look forward to Ruth Ozeki’s next book.’
‘A Tale for the Time Being is equal parts mystery and meditation. The mystery is a compulsive, gritty page-turner. The meditation—on time and memory, on the oceanic movement of history, on impermanence and uncertainty, but also resilience and bravery—is deep and gorgeous and wise. A completely satisfying, continually surprising, wholly remarkable achievement, this is a book to be read and reread.’
‘One of those exquisitely rare books in which you’re still wondering what else it holds until the very last page…[Ozeki’s] maximalist style puts her in the realms of David Foster Wallace or early David Mitchell but, unlike almost any other postmodern author for whom concepts frequently trump character, Ozeki can pluck at the heart strings like a samisen, offering moments that bring hand to mouth on both horror and joy.’
‘A Tale for the Time Being achieves an impressive balancing act: it’s a book that is profound but never earnest.’
‘An engaging, bitter-sweet work.’
‘A novel that is clever on many levels but also immensely readable.’
‘The novel’s seamless web of language, metaphor and meaning can’t be disentangled from its powerful emotional impact: These are characters we care for deeply, imparting vital life lessons through the magic of storytelling. A masterpiece, pure and simple.’
‘A huge, compassionate and cleverly wrought novel.’
‘delightful yet sometimes harrowing’, ‘rang[ing] widely, drawing in everything from quantum mechanics and the theory of infinite possibilities in an infinite number of universes to the teachings of the 13th-century Zen master Dogen Zenji.’
‘We as readers undergo a discovery process just as the fictional Ruth does. It is rare to read such a complete book.’