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Ozeki, Ruth A Tale For The Time Being

ISBN 13: 9781594136887

A Tale For The Time Being

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9781594136887: A Tale For The Time Being
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A novelist on a remote island in the Pacific is linked to a bullied and depressed Tokyo teenager after discovering a Hello Kitty lunchbox that washed ashore in this new novel from the award-wining, best-selling author of My Year of Meats. (general fiction).

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About the Author:

Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. She is the award-winning author of three novels, "My Year of Meats," "All Over Creation," and "A Tale for the Time Being," which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her critically acclaimed independent films, including "Halving the Bones," have been screened at Sundance and aired on PBS. She is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City.
Visit and follow @ozekiland on Twitter.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Praise for A Tale for the Time Being

“Nao’s lively voice, by turns breezy, petulant, funny, sad, and teenage-girl wise, reaches the reader in the pages of her diary, which, as Ruth Ozeki begins to fold and pleat her intricate parable of a novel, washes ashore, safe in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, on a small Canadian island off the coast of British Columbia. . . . Dualities, overlaps, time shifts, and coincidences are the currents that move A Tale for the Time Being along: This is a book that does not give up its multiple meanings easily, gently but insistently instructing the reader to progress slowly in order to contemplate the porous membrane that separates fact from fiction, self from circumstance, past from present.”

The New York Times

“Plunges us into a tantalizing narration that brandishes mysteries to be solved and ideas to be explored.”

The Washington Post

“A delightful yet sometimes harrowing novel . . . Many of the elements of Nao’s story—schoolgirl bullying, unemployed suicidal ‘salarymen,’ kamikaze pilots—are among a Western reader’s most familiar images of Japan, but in Nao’s telling, refracted through Ruth’s musings, they become fresh and immediate, occasionally searingly painful. Ozeki takes on big themes . . . all drawn into the stories of two ‘time beings,’ Ruth and Nao, whose own fates are inextricably bound.”

The New York Times Book Review

“A terrific novel full of breakthroughs both personal and literary . . . Ozeki revels in Tokyo teen culture—this goes far beyond Hello Kitty—and explores quantum physics, military applications of computer video games, Internet bullying, and Marcel Proust, all while creating a vulnerable and unique voice for the sixteen-year-old girl at its center.”

The Seattle Times

“A fascinating multigenerational tapestry of long ago, recent past, and present . . . The writing resonates with an immediacy and rawness that is believable and touching.”

The Boston Globe

“A rich and engaging novel . . . A Tale for the Time Being explores many themes, biculturalism, war, manga, depression, suicide clubs, Internet bullying, the slippery qualities of time, and Zen Buddhism. When Nao learns to meditate at Jiko’s temple she says, ‘When you return your mind to zazen, it feels like coming home.’ Ultimately this satisfying novel is about discovering home in the moment, or now, and also home within ourselves.”

The Oregonian

“Beautifully written, intensely readable, and richly layered . . . Ozeki moves between Ruth’s and Nao’s stories and their very different voices while exploring the elements of time, past, present (whatever that is, in the context of this book), and, perhaps, the future. Nao stays with her Jiko and meets the ghost of her great-uncle Haruki, a kamikaze pilot; Ruth makes a mysterious journey and has an important encounter of her own. The human relationships are deftly explored. . . . A Tale for the Time Being is compelling and memorable, one of the best books of the year.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Forget the proverbial message in a bottle: This Tale fractures clichés as it affirms the lifesaving power of words. . . . As Ozeki explores the ties between reader and writer, she offers a lesson in redemption that reinforces the pricelessness of the here and now.”


“A powerful yarn of fate and parallel lives.”

Good Housekeeping

“Ozeki weaves together Nao’s adolescent yearnings with Ruth’s contemplative di – gressions, adding bits of Zen wisdom, as well as questions about agency, creativity, life, death, and human connections along the way. A Tale for the Time Being is a dreamy, spiritual investigation of how to gracefully meet the waves of time, which, in the end, come for us all.”

The Daily Beast

“As we read Nao’s story and the story of Ozeki’s reading of it, as we go back and forth between the text and the notes, time expands for us. It opens up onto something resembling narrative eternity . . . page after page, slowly unfolding. And what a beautiful effect that is for a novel to create.”

—Alan Cheuse, NPR’s All Things Considered

A Tale for the Time Being is ambitious, it’s multilayered, and it’s fantastic. . . . Ruth Ozeki creates multiple worlds that are alive and filled with so much sensory details and symbolism and it’s difficult not to resist being completely immersed. Stock your fridge, finish the laundry, and feed the cat because you’ll be busy for a few days.”


“A multilayered postmodern fantasia with a heart of gold.”

—Ellis Avery, Public Books

“In A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki pulls out all the stops with her new cast of beautiful, batty, and sad characters. . . . It’s such a romp—so unafraid of the disasters of life, so full of delight—that it’s well worth the read. Forget the easy escape route of quantum mechanics; the novel more than supplies enough old-fashioned reading magic.”

Shambhala Sun

“Ozeki is a fantastic novelist.”

The Sunday Times (London)

“A deep and illuminating piece of work.”

The Guardian (London)

“A huge, compassionate, and cleverly wrought novel . . . Ozeki beautifully captures Nao’s teenage voice, with its conflicting harmonies of bathos and intensity, stoicism and optimism. . . . As the novel draws to a close, with an extended riff on quantum mechanics, Schrödinger’s cat, and the influence of perception on physical reality, the readers shares with Ruth a series of revelations about the human need for resolution and the impossibility of getting it.”

The Times Literary Supplement (London)

“Links have been made between Buddhism and modern quantum physics before, but seldom can they have been intertwined with such emotive power and linguistic grace as Ruth Ozeki manages in this funny, heartbreaking, moving, and profound novel. . . . The warmth, compassion, wisdom, and insight with which Ozeki pieces all these stories together will have the reader linked in a similarly profound way to this fantastic novel.”

The Independent (London)

“Japanese pop culture, fiction, and nonfiction all mash up in this genius novel about hope and friendship.”


“Dazzling . . . In its shift to a novel of ideas, through a carefully wrought yet seemingly reckless narrative explosion, the novel shines. It is not only a storytelling tour de force (and rest assured, Ozeki doesn’t abandon either the richness of her characterizations nor the expanding force of the paired story lines in favor of the deeper searching; everything resolves, though not in a manner that anyone would expect), but a rich, thought-provoking, paradigm-disturbing experience of a novel. Like a Zen koan, A Tale for the Time Being defies simple answers or explanations even as it reveals all. You will carry it with you.”

The Vancouver Sun

“A magical narrative that dances in all worlds at once . . . However many paradoxes Ozeki throws into the mix, Nao and Ruth—at once united and separated by time and place—ultimately create their own magic, at least for the time being.”

Toronto Star

“Exudes an infectious sense of warmth and wonder . . . Nao is an irresistible character: inquisitive, funny, and world-weary but heartbreakingly vulnerable. . . . A Tale for the Time Being achieves an impressive balancing act.”

The Australian

“One of those exquisitely rare books in which you’re still wondering what else it holds until the very last page . . . Ozeki’s maximalist style puts her in the realms of David Foster Wallace or early David Mitchell but, unlike almost any other postmodern author for whom concepts frequently trump character, Ozeki can pluck at the heartstrings like a samisen, offering moments that bring hand to mouth in both horror and joy.”

The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

“Ruth Ozeki’s parallel narratives stretch the reader to appreciate them fully. You are never going to get anything less than profoundly interesting. . . . Her real skill, though, is in blending concept and story so beautifully. The result is a novel that is clever on many levels but also immensely readable.”

The New Zealand Herald

“A quietly amazing achievement . . . a good read that reverberates in thought long after the final page . . . Many sentences or phrases had this reader stopping and rereading, savoring the beauty of Ozeki’s words.”

The Japan Times

“Ruth Ozeki takes readers on a journey of laughter, sorrow, and enlightenment. . . . Ambitious and engrossing, Nao’s narrative will grab readers’ hearts as easily as Ruth’s. . . . Do not miss this beautiful, intricate world or the characters who inhabit it.”

Shelf Awareness

“Wildly imaginative, ambitious, and brilliant . . . Ozeki expresses our universal desire to connect with others through words and stories. Her characters speak to us across time and across continents and beckon us to follow them to unknown worlds. Equal parts sobering and inspiring, the novel is wholly inventive from the first page to the last. . . . A Tale for the Time Being is destined to become a modern classic.”

Book Magnet

“An enthralling, beautiful novel about relationships, time, history, and culture. Right from the beginning it draws you in, slowly unfolding and, just when you think it can’t, pulling you in ever further. . . . A standout book.”

Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea

“Superb . . . A Tale for the Time Being is both disarming and likely to leave readers feeling its emotional impact for a long time to come.”


“Magnificent . . . The novel’s seamless web of language, metaphor, and meaning can’t be disentangled from its powerful emotional impact: These are characters we care for deeply, imparting vital life lessons through the magic of storytelling. A masterpiece, pure and simple.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“An intriguing, even beautiful narrative remarkable for its unusual but attentively structured plot. . . . We go from one story line to the other, back and forth across the Pacific, but the reader never loses place or interest.”

Booklist (starred review)

“Ozeki’s absorbing novel is an extended meditation on writing, time, and people in time. . . . The characters’ lives are finely drawn, from Ruth’s rustic lifestyle to the Yasutani family’s straitened existence after moving from Sunnyvale, California, to Tokyo. Nao’s winsome voice contrasts with Ruth’s intellectual ponderings to make up a lyrical disquisition on writing’s power to transcend time and place. This tale from Ozeki, a Zen Buddhist priest, is sure to please anyone who values a good story broadened with intellectual vigor.”

Publishers Weekly

“An extraordinary novel about a courageous young woman, riven by loneliness, by time, and (ultimately) by tsunami. Nao is an inspired narrator and her quest to tell her great grandmother’s story, to connect with her past and with the larger world is both aching and true. Ozeki is one of my favorite novelists and here she is at her absolute best—bewitching, intelligent, hilarious, and heartbreaking, often on the same page.”

—Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of This Is How You Lose Her

A Tale for the Time Being is a timeless story. Ruth Ozeki beautifully renders not only the devastation of the collision between man and the natural world, but also its often miraculous results.”

—Alice Sebold, bestselling author of The Lovely Bones

“Ingenious and touching . . . I read it with great pleasure.”

—Philip Pullman, award-winning author of The Golden Compass

“A beautifully interwoven novel about magic and loss and the incomprehensible threads that connect our lives. I loved it.”

—Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things

“One of the most deeply moving and thought-provoking novels I have read in a long time. In precise and luminous prose, Ozeki captures both the sweep and detail of our shared humanity. The result is gripping, fearless, inspiring, and true.”

—Madeline Miller, Orange Prize–winning author of The Song of Achilles

A Tale for the Time Being is equal parts mystery and meditation. The mystery is a compulsive, gritty page-turner. The meditation—on time and memory, on the oceanic movement of history, on impermanence and uncertainty, but also resilience and bravery—is deep and gorgeous and wise. A completely satisfying, continually surprising, wholly remarkable achievement.”

—Karen Joy Fowler, bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

“A great achievement, and the work of a writer at the height of her powers. Ruth Ozeki has not only reinvigorated the novel itself, the form, but she’s given us the tried and true, deep and essential pleasure of characters we love and who matter.”

—Jane Hamilton, bestselling author of A Map of the World

“Profoundly original, with authentic, touching characters and grand, encompassing themes, Ruth Ozeki’s novel proves that truly great stories—like this one—can both deepen our understanding of self and remind us of our shared humanity.”

—Deborah Harkness, bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night

“A wise and wonderfully inventive story that will resonate through time.”

—Gail Tsukiyama, bestselling author of The Samurai’s Garden

A Tale for the Time Being is that rare book that effortlessly applies a lively novelist’s skill to profound exploration of Dharma. . . . You will fall in love with these characters (especially grandma Jiko, the 104-year-old Zen nun)!”

—Norman Fischer, author of Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong


Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. She is the award-winning author of three novels, My Year of Meats, All Over Creation, and A Tale for the Time Being. Her critically acclaimed independent films, including Halving the Bones, have been screened at Sundance and aired on PBS. She is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City.






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