A Tale for the Time Being: Book summary and reviews of A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

A Tale for the Time Being

By Ruth Ozeki

A Tale for the Time Being
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2013,
    432 pages.

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Book Summary

A brilliant, unforgettable, and long-awaited novel from bestselling 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, 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Magnificent ...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." - Kirkus

"Ozeki's absorbing novel is an extended meditation on writing, time, and people in time... This tale from Ozeki, a Zen Buddhist priest, is sure to please anyone who values a good story broadened with intellectual vigor." - Publishers Weekly

"Remarkable ... A highly unusual and rewarding novel that covers a vast scope of often disturbing subjects with great humanity and continually loops back to the ever human dilemma of how to live through difficult times." - The Bookseller

"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 and with the larger 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." - Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of This Is How You Lose Her

"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 its often miraculous results." - Alice Sebold, bestselling author of The Lovely Bones

"Ingenious and touching...I read it with great pleasure." -Philip Pullman, award-winning author of The Golden Compass

"One of the most deeply moving and thought-provoking novels I have read in a long time. In precise and luminous prose, Ozeki captures both the sweep and detail of our shared humanity. The result is gripping, fearless, inspiring and true." -Madeline Miller, author of the Orange Prize winner The Song of Achilles

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." - Karen Joy Fowler, bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club

"A great achievement, and the work of a writer at the height of her powers. Ruth Ozeki has not only reinvigorated the novel itself, the form, but she's given us the tried and true, deep and essential pleasure of characters we love and who matter." - Jane Hamilton, bestselling author of A Map of the World

"Profoundly original, with authentic, touching characters and grand, encompassing themes, Ruth Ozeki's novel proves that truly great stories- like this one- can both deepen our understanding of self and remind us of our shared humanity." - Deborah Harkness, bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night

"I've long been an admirer of Ruth Ozeki's work, and her exquisite, richly textured novel, A Tale for the Time Being, marks the stunning return of a writer at the height of her powers. Seamlessly weaving together tales of the past and present that are equally magical and heartbreaking, she transports us to the worlds of Nao and Jiko, in Japan, and Ruth, on a remote island in British Columbia, where their worlds collide as they reach across time to find the meaning of life and home...A wise and wonderfully inventive story that will resonate through time." -Gail Tsukiyama, bestselling author of The Samurai's Garden

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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.

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