Sunday, November 3, 2013


A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The books that surprise me are the ones that lead me on a new path where I am delighted to find myself.

What attracted me to Ruth Ozeki's tale of a blocked novelist named Ruth, reluctantly living on a remote Canadian island, was the young Japanese girl's diary that washed up on the shore. Ruth took it home thinking it was trash but her husband Oliver discovered the treasure inside.

Focusing back and forth between Nao's and Ruth's stories, the reader becomes vested in the meaning of both lives.

Ozeki is a beautiful, careful writer. There are profound but simple sentences throughout that I felt the need to highlight on my Kindle. If necessary the Japanese words are notated as are some of the more difficult concepts. The reader understands they are safely in the hands of an expert storyteller even though some sections describe difficult and unpleasant things.

This is not a book for everyone. Some might even consider it a boring tale. It is not an easy book to understand. It is layered and esoteric. The reader knows what is on the surface, but at some point it slips beyond one's grasp and becomes something more. Eventually you and the author can no longer rationalize all the elements of magical realism. I finally had to just let the story go where it would and realize that my understanding would not be perfect and would change and morph throughout the time I was part of the story and perhaps even beyond.

There were many points of connection for a reader: Proust, Japan, suicide, kamikaze pilots, history, bullying, Buddhism, quantum physics, and myth.  The sense of considering time from a variety of possibilities was fascinating. The recurring idea of opposites being 'same thing' will stay with me forever as something needing contemplation. 

“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.” 

Title: A Tale for the Time Being
Author: Ruth Ozeki
Genre: Literature
Publisher:Viking Adult
No. of Pages: 432 pages
Copyright: March 12, 2013
ISBN: 0670026638
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Amazon Kindle

A Canadian-American novelist and filmmaker, Ruth Ozeki worked in commercial television and media production for over a decade before turning to writing fiction.  She is, in fact, a Zen Buddhist priest. A Tale for the Time Being was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize this year.

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    1 comment:

    1. Sounds really interesting. I'm going to put it on my list! Thanks for sharing.