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A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel by Ruth…
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A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel

by Ruth L. Ozeki

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,7761743,182 (4.07)1 / 320
  1. 20
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (bibliothequaire)
  2. 21
    To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (pamelahuffman)
    pamelahuffman: In both books there are people in the present trying to make sense of journals and artifacts from the past. Loved both books.
  3. 00
    Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Ozeki' s novel and Rizzuto's memoir are about daughters of Japanese mothers & American fathers who are trying to come to terms with world war 2 in the aftermath of 9/11. They're very different books, but both explore issues of mothering, memory, and loss.… (more)
  4. 02
    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (urban_lenny)
    urban_lenny: Similar concepts of multiple worlds
  5. 04
    Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (tobiejonzarelli)
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English (168)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (173)
Showing 1-5 of 168 (next | show all)
So my first thought on finishing this book was "huh. That ending was a bit too perfect for my liking."
But after thinking about it, I realized... the ending presented isn't really the ending at all.

I'm going to be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers, so bear with me.

On the surface, it looks as though everything is neatly tied up in a bow at the end, and everything is looking optimistic, which, of course, is the type of story we all need to hear sometimes (even if we don't necessarily want to hear it). I didn't hate the ending, but it did feel a bit too sweet, but instead of leaving me content, this sweetness settled uncomfortably in my belly. Something wasn't... right.

That was because this is a novel by an author writing about herself. She is writing the book into existence. She is writing herself.

Maybe that does not seem important, but trust me, it is.

Because instead of ending up with a peachy-cream ending, this small details leaves us with something a little less sweet: an author writing her own ending. An author fabricating an ending to her own tale. An author writing the ending she wants not the ending that exists.

It's subtle, but the last 50 pages or so of the book hint at this too (you know, those pages where they go on and on about philosophy, and that dream that kind of makes you quirk your head and wonder what kind of book you're reading).

This ending changes everything. Because now the story isn't about Nao and Ruth, but it's about you, and how rarely in life do we get endings, so instead we create the ending we want in order to soothe something down inside of us that needs that resolution, or that message, or that solution. It's about how we choose our realities, and what we believe, so that we can move on and be better people tomorrow. It's about the power of stories, and of communication between strangers, and how our own choices can impact lives thousands of miles or years away.

It's about our desire for happily ever after, and how we create that ending for ourselves and others in our minds, even if it really does not exist. ( )
  ainjel | Jun 20, 2019 |
This is one of those books I am going to have to process slowly. It is two stories, converging, both of them presenting themselves as somewhat other than what they are. See? I can't write about this yet. I need to think it through. War, monks, Japanese, internet, memory, Northwest, cruelty, quantum physics, Zen, marriage, redemption. Time Being. Now.

It seems like it would have been fun to write this folded origami of a book. My son Nicco's book, when published in Japan, came with a folded cover which unfolded into something else. I would hope for a similar cover should this book be published in Japan. ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
This is probably the most difficult review I've attempted. I read this for our book group, which meets later this week. I know already that several of us were not liking the book while reading it, and I guess one way to describe it is "dark" which isn't what I usually choose to read. Do I even recommend this book? It depends. Debbie summed up the book well in a Goodreads review from Sept 2014: "This is a strange and at first totally enchanting read. Nao is a young Japanese teenager living in Tokyo, transplanted from Silicon Valley. She has written a diary that washes up on the shores of Canada. Her story is unusual and inventive. A writer, Ruth, living in the woods with her husband, finds the diary and sets about trying to figure out what happened to Nao. The story alternates between the two worlds, and it's clever how the stories intersect. Lots of topics are touched upon--suicide, bullying, 9/11, Zen Buddhism, and Japanese soldiers in WW2." There are lots of footnotes, which explain Japanese words and phrases. If bullying and suicide are topics you want to explore, then you will enjoy the book more than I did. ( )
  PhyllisReads | Apr 27, 2019 |
There is so much going on in this book! It seems like it is Ozeki's magnum opus, covering Japan and the west coast of BC, French literature, Soto Zen Buddhism, life and death, suicide, the relationship between reader and writer, bullying and social pressure, trauma, war and pacifism, natural disasters, the environment, sex work, quantum physics, memory, et cetera! It is quite dark and heavy, but rightfully so, doing justice to such profound subjects. This really earned its five stars. It's an incredible effort. ( )
  xiaomarlo | Apr 17, 2019 |
I think this is a remarkable novel, well deserved to be shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2013. It is the first time that I have awarded a book five stars. For me it ticked all of the boxes, it is beautifully written. The character of Nao comes alive through the reading of her diary, drawing you into her world, were the brutality of some of the things she has to endure is counterbalanced by the spiritual guidance and love she receives from Old Jiko, her great grandmother. You can't help but share in Ruth's determination to find out what has happened to Nao and her family. The novel left me with a heightened sense of the here and now, as each person's individual destiny can be altered, in a single moment, that's all it takes to destroy lives. Equally the same moment in time may have no consequences if influenced by a different set of circumstances. It also left me feeling a bit sad and strangely optimistic at the same time too. If you like to think deeply, this is definitely the novel for you. I expect that I will return to this novel in the future and re-read it again, because one reading just doesn't seem to do it justice. ( )
  marjorie.mallon | Mar 27, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 168 (next | show all)
In clever and deeply affecting ways, Ruth Ozeki’s luminous new novel explores notions of duality, causation, honour, and time. ... Though [the character] Ruth is clearly intended as a semi-autobiographical portrait of the author, it’s the character of Nao, in all her angsty adolescent dismissiveness, that Ozeki truly pulls off (here’s an author who should be writing YA novels).
 
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is expansive, provocative and sometimes rather confusing. But that’s okay. It’s supposed to be....It can leave you scratching your head – for starters, the main character of the novel seems to be Ruth Ozeki herself, or at least, a fairly obvious facsimile of her – but ultimately, the effect of such riddles is charming, earnest and very much a departure from your typical literary novel....Like them, Ozeki manages to turn existential conundrums into a playful, joyful and pleasantly mind-bending dialogue between reader and writer. Here’s hoping that this book will find its way to an audience just as excited to participate in it.
added by zhejw | editGlobe and Mail, Lucy Silag (Mar 29, 2013)
 
"A Tale for the Time Being"... is an exquisite novel: funny, tragic, hard-edged and ethereal at once.

[It's] heady stuff, but it hangs together for a couple of reasons — the exuberance of Ozeki's writing, the engaging nature of her characters and, not least, her scrupulous insistence that it doesn't have to hang together, that even as she ties up loose ends, others come unbound.
added by zhejw | editLos Angeles Times, David Ulin (Mar 21, 2013)
 
Seen from space, or from the vantage point of those conversant with Zen principles, A Tale for the Time Being is probably a deep and illuminating piece of work, with thoughtful things to say about the slipperiness of time. But for those positioned lower in the planet's stratosphere, Ozeki's novel often feels more like the great Pacific gyre it frequently evokes: a vast, churning basin of mental flotsam in which Schrödinger's cat, quantum mechanics, Japanese funeral rituals, crow species, fetish cafes, the anatomy of barnacles, 163 footnotes and six appendices all jostle for attention. It's an impressive amount of stuff.

One version of you might be intrigued. Another might pray it doesn't land on your shore.
added by zhejw | editThe Guardian, Liz Jensen (Mar 15, 2013)
 
If you’re a fan of the metaphysician Martin Heidegger, or the physicist Erwin Schrödinger, you will be pleased at the novel’s tip of the hat to their abstruse notions of time and sub-atomic space. There’s even an appendix to the novel explaining the “thought experiment” known to the world as “Schrödinger’s cat...But the novel suffers from a tinge of self satisfaction. It pits sensitive souls like the involuntary kamikaze pilot who loves French literature against brutal army officers, and it’s not a fair fight. The fight becomes Us — readers who derive spiritual sustenance from Marcel Proust, and appreciate “the value of kindness, of education, of independent thinking and liberal ideals” — versus Them, who are sheer brutes.
 
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Masako,
for now and forever
First words
Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Een oude boeddha zei eens:

In de tijd, staan op de hoogste bergtop,
In de tijd, afdalen naar de bodem van de diepste zee,
In de tijd, een duivel met drie koppen en acht armen,
In de tijd, een vijf meter hoge boeddha van goud,
In de tijd, een monniksstaf of de vliegenmepper van een meester,
In de tijd, een pilaar of een lantaarn,
In de tijd, Jan en alleman,
In de tijd, de hele aarde en de eindeloze hemel.

- Dõgen Zenji, Bestaan in de tijd'
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Depui un bar à hotêsses de Tokyo , Nao raconte de histoires : la sienne , ado déracinée , martyrisée par es camarades ; celle de sa fascinante aïeule , nonne zen de cent quatre ans ; de son grand-oncle kamikaze , passionné de poésie ; de son père qui cherche sur le net la recette du suicide parfait . Des intants de vie qu'elle veut confier avant de disparaître . Ruth s'interroge : et si elle , romancière en mal d'inspiration , avait le pouvoir de réécrire le destin de Nao , Serait il possible alors d'unir le passé et le présent ? La terre et le ciel ?
Haiku summary
Schoolgirls, Buddhist nuns
tsunami brings quantum gifts
From Japan to here
(pickupsticks)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670026638, Hardcover)

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.  


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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, this is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.… (more)

» see all 9 descriptions

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