Jul 4, 2013

Book Review: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki


Title: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Published March 12, 2013; Viking Adult
Genre: fiction
Source: library book

My comments: Nao, the young Japanese writer of a diary found by Ruth will break your heart several times over during the course of the novel. A victim of extreme bullying in school, she contemplates suicide, then meets her great-grandmother, a 104-year-old Buddhist nun who will have a great effect on her life. Nao's grand-uncle Haruki #1 will also grab your sympathies through his diaries, the writings of a conscripted kamikazi pilot on the hardship and brutalities of his military life. If I could give this novel a higher rating than 5, I would.

The characters are so real that you easily become involved in their lives and care deeply about what happens to them. The book also combines in its mixture, religion, quantum physics, history, biology, dreams and paranormal events, and philosophy.  Kudos to an outstanding author.

Goodreads book description:

“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."

Submitted for the Japanese Literature Challenge 7 hosted by dolcebellezza.
Submitted to Cym Lowell's Book Review Link-Up Party

12 comments:

  1. Wow, this sounds amazing. This book caught my attention previously because of the nice cover. I'll have to add it to my wishlist.

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    1. The cover is bright and interesting, I agree.

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  2. This sounds very good. I have read a few real life accounts about the japanese military in World War II. It sounds like a really harrowing experience.

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    1. I had not realized that there were diaries left by the kamikaze pilots. Evidently, from the appendices of the book, there are some books about these printed by the University of Chicago.

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  3. This sounds very touching, Harvee. Great choice for Bellezza's annual reading challenge. The cover's very striking.

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    1. I'm glad the Lit Challenge includes Japanese American authors and books written by others about the Japanese.

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  4. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for your review.

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  5. Sounds like an excellent book. Characters that you care about so much that they break your heart are rare, I find. And your rating says it all! I'll look out for this one.

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    1. I found it easy to feel for the young writer of the diaries...

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  6. I've enjoyed a couple of Ozeki's previous novels and have this on my shelf. I'm looking forward to it even more after reading your review!

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