Thoughts and Giveaway: A Tale for the Time Being

ozekiA Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki

432 pages

Published in March 2013 by Viking

Source: Received a copy from the publisher then bought my own copy

In A Tale for the Time Being, novelist Ruth Ozeki weaves meditations about time with Zen Buddhism, school bullying, compassion, history, and so much more. Ruth, a novelist living in on a small island, finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed on the beach. Inside is a collection of letters, a journal disguised as a French edition of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, and a watch that once belonged to a kamikaze pilot.

In Tokyo, a sixteen year-old girl named Nao sits down to write her grandmother Jiko’s life. At 104 years old, Jiko has lived a full and exciting life. Once a radical and a writer, Jiko renounced the outside world and became a Zen Buddhist nun. As Nao tries to write down the stories that her grandmother has shared, she ends up including things about her own life. With a suicidal father, an overworking mother, and being the target of pretty much every person at her school, Nao decides to end her life after she finishes the journal. There’s no point in living in a world without Jiko.

As Ruth reads Nao’s journal, she’s pulled deeper into the young girl’s story and is left wondering, what happened to Nao?

I want to sound all professional and give you my thoughts but basically: read the damn book. Read it, read it, read it! This book is graceful, it’s loving, and it can be shocking at times. I can’t remember the last time I read a book that had me tearing up after I finished reading it.

In a Tale for the Time Being, the story smoothly goes back and forth between Ruth and Nao. You may have noticed that the character Ruth and the author share the same name. That’s because Ruth Ozeki actually put herself into this fictional account along with her husband, Oliver, an artist. That bold move doesn’t distract from the story at all. If anything, it makes the story feels more real.

There’s so much to the story and it’s so relevant. Zen Buddhism has a big role in this book along with Japan’s part in WWII, and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan. The characters talk about various things like the half-life of information, holding on to the present even as it becomes the past, and ocean pollution. There is never a dull moment, never a time where I wished a paragraph or a page was cut.

Look I’m going to start rambling, so I better stop now. This is an amazing book. You’re not going to find anything similar to it. Go read it.

The publisher has been so kind as to offer a copy to my readers. Leave a comment telling me that want to be entered. I’ll announce the winner this Sunday, March 24th.

Have you read any books by Ozeki before?

27 thoughts on “Thoughts and Giveaway: A Tale for the Time Being”

  1. Don’t think I’ve read anything by Ruth Ozeki before, although her All Over Creation is on my TBR list. A Tale for the Time Being sounds like a great book! Please enter me in the giveaway!

  2. Yes, yes, yes. If you recommend it, then I want to read it!

    I’d love to enter to try to win!

  3. I’d like to be entered into the giveaway, please! I’m also going to read this whether it not I win–I’ve been interested in it since the first time you mentioned it here.

  4. I just got this book last week, and am anxious to read it. It does sound like a story that would suck me in and not let go, and the fact that it takes place in many different layers intrigues me. When I am done with the tour books, this is the first book I am picking up for myself. Thanks for the wonderful review!

  5. thanks for the giveaway! I haven’t read any by this author yet, but it’s on my TBR. and as I like a lot Japanese writers, I would be interested what it’s like under the pen of a Japanese-American one. Thanks for the opportunity.
    ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  6. Please don’t include my name, as I’ve loved her other two novels, so I simply will have to buy this one and send her my few pennies in royalties…but I just wanted to say that I am THAT much more excited about reading it, thanks to your review! So inspiring.

  7. I’ve not read any Ozeki books but this sound interesting. then again, I’ll probably read anything that has good reviews. it sounds you’re quite attached to Nao and Ruth. I do like the idea of the author putting herself in the book even though it’s fiction.

    enter me in the giveaway, would love to read this. hope you have a great day.

  8. Oh I am so excited to read your very positive review! I bought a copy after reading less than half of the galley, and I can’t wait to start is again 🙂

  9. I massively want to win this! I am dying to read it. The excerpt I read was so lovely and I really want to read the rest, especially now that you’ve raved about it. It sounds like something I’m going to crazy crazy love.

  10. Oh, I definitely want to win this book. If you say “just read the damn book”, I definitely want to read the damn book! lol

  11. You’ve had me dying to read this book since you first mentioned it!!! I’d love to be entered for a chance to read it….I’m wanting it even more after this review!

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