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A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
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A Tale for the Time Being (edition 2013)

by Ruth Ozeki

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2,5531593,416 (4.06)1 / 308
Member:othersam
Title:A Tale for the Time Being
Authors:Ruth Ozeki
Info:Canongate Books Ltd (2013), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work details

A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel by Ruth L. Ozeki

  1. 30
    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.
  2. 20
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (bibliothequaire)
  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 (155)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (159)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
I had to take off one star because I hated the first 128 pages of this book! I really wanted to drop it, I found it very annoying, uninteresting, slow etc. Suddenly it started to engage me, and then it just kept building until the last 1/4 where it became hard to put down. There were things I could have lived without such as the attempted tutorial on quantum physics - never going to really understand that stuff - but that was easily skimmable. The story begins with Ruth, an author living on a remote island, suffering from writer's block, who discovers a diary, letters and a watch which appear to have washed ashore from the Japanese Tsunami. She begins to read the diary and finds herself becoming consumed with the life of a teenager, raised in California, now living in Japan. The girl is miserable, horrifically bullied at school, her homelife is not much better. Attempted salvation comes from her 104 year old great-grandmother who lives in a remote temple as a nun.

There is a lot of historical background here, as well as a look at modern day Japan, as well a a good dose of magic/mysticism. You don't necessarily have to believe, Ruth is not sure she does, but it does make for a better story. After a very painful start I found this to be a beautiful and satisfying read. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I loved this book! A Tale for the Time Being is very well written and combines time together seamlessly. The plot alone is great, Ruth in Canada found a diary of a Japanese teenager, Nao, who is being bullied and has a suicidal father. Ruth and the readers while reading Nao’s diary feel there is a urgency to help her even though the diary is old and whatever preventable actions could of been taken to save Nao it was too late, but you forget that and want to still help her. While Nao is struggling she visits her great grandmother, Jiko, who is a Buddhist Nun, and hears stories about her great uncle who her father is named after that was a pilot during WWII. Ruth tries to understand Nao and figure out more about her and how her diary ended up in her hands. Then there is a level of the plot that is beyond what is described and it is hard to put into words, but the gist is about the meaning of time and possibilities.

The main characters Ruth and Nao alternate between chapters and unlike many books that do this, it is done right. There isn’t any mix up feelings about who is speaking in the chapter, the author gave each character a very unique feel. It is an emotional ride, but a good ride and pays off.

I enjoyed the ending. It is a bit abstract where the reader can come up with multiple conclusions and still never know. The last part of the book about infinite universes built of infinite possibilities gives the ending a supernatural feeling, but it is a real scientific theory. Some spoilers ahead to explain what I mean. Ruth swears the last pages are missing when Nao’s father is about to commit suicide and Nao might too after visiting her dying great-grandmother. Ruth has a dream and she prevents the suicide of the father and places the pilots journal into a box to be found. When she wakes up the journal has more pages filled out. Did she alternate Nao’s history by intervening in her dream? Maybe. While I loved the ending, I can understand how it could be frustrating for other readers, but it does fit with Buddhist beliefs, which makes it perfect in my opinion. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Jul 9, 2018 |
This was my pick for Read Harder 2017's Task 19. There are actually several characters of color who go on spiritual journeys. A Tale for the Time Being has two protagonists, both are women of color and then some second tier characters have their own spiritual journeys as well. The book opens with Nao, who I would call the main protagonist. She is one of those characters who live between cultures and is therefore harder to understand and has a harder time relating to people of either culture. She's lonely at school where she can't relate to other students who grew up in Japan, but also at home. Her parents have enough of their own issues that they don't have the awareness to deal with hers, until Nao's issues practically hit them in the face.

Ruth is the other protagonist. This part of the story is a little more familiar for Western audiences despite that Ruth is a protagonist of color. Also of Japanese heritage, she takes a special interest in Nao's diary after it washes up on the shores of her local beach in Canada along with other items from Japan. The assumption around town is that these items were washed away in the tsunami that had hit Japan in 2011. More than anything else that has washed up though, this diary and the few things with it are more personal to Ruth. Her character arc and spiritual journey is just as pronounced as Nao's as she searches for what may have happened to Nao.

For me, Nao's journey is by far the more interesting one. She goes through so much and her family had been through so much. There's also a magnificent shifting of perspective and the way they know and see each other. Its a multigenerational kind of story that has several beautiful layers but also several horrific and triggering scenes. Some triggers to expect in this book are suicide and suicidal thoughts, rape, bullying, depression, and child prostitution.

With triggers like that, I was also surprised to find the rather perfect way it resolved. There's some magical realism that comes into play, but it had been there from the beginning too. And perfect does not mean that life goes on as if nothing ever happened, quite the contrary. There are still mysteries left to the story too, but these are the kind if mysteries that are true to life. Sometimes we just don't get to know about some things we are looking for. I rather liked that.

Altogether, it's one of my favorite books this year. ( )
  Calavari | Apr 5, 2018 |
I'm having a hard time figuring out what to say about this book. It was an incredible story about time and our connections to people. It was also a sad story about a girl being bullied and her relationship with her suicidal father. Very very sad in some ways. One of the best books I've read this year. ( )
  gossamerchild88 | Mar 30, 2018 |
This is an amazingly good book. There are so many levels and layers to it. It's partly the journal of a teenage Japanese girl named Nao, partly the reaction to the journal on the part of Ruth, a woman who finds the journal on a beach in British Columbia. It's a hero's journey, a testament to the strength of the characters, a contemplation of time and its many layers. I was fascinated to see where the novel was going. I loved absorbing the Buddhist wisdom on the part of Nao's great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun. It's two tales woven into one with time as a pivotal character. It is an extraordinary book and I think I'll go back and re-read it to catch some of the layers I may have missed. It's amazing. ( )
  smallwonder56 | Mar 24, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (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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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
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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
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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