“A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki is a novel that begs to be read slowly and purposefully. Take your time with it and be rewarded with magical reading experience you will want to savor time and again.
What begins as entertaining diary entries written by a young teenager weaves into a tapestry of stories with a diverse cast of characters. Meet Nao’s grand-uncle Haruki #1, a WWII pilot who died while carrying out a kamikaze mission over the Pacific. Also, her great grandmother Jiko, who is a Zen Buddhist nun—an anarchist, feminist, and novelist—all rolled into one.
Meanwhile, there is the story of Ruth, a novelist who discovers Nao’s diary, among other relics, packed inside a lunchbox that washes up along the beach. Ruth begins reading Nao’s diary. She quickly becomes obsessed with learning the truth about the sixteen-year-old girl, her family, and their present situation.
Through her diary, Nao reaches out to someone who will listen to her story, and Ruth responds to her in the now. The two protagonists connect through time and space, and a magical story between the two time beings unfolds.
Here is collection of stories that explore the duality between Japanese and American culture, past and present, death and life, individuals and the world around them. Here are narratives told by two individuals completely separate yet inexplicably one.
Intellectually deep and heartrendingly human, Ozeki’s novel is a life-changing read. I see myself getting lost in the magic of Nao’s story time and again for years to come, and I hope that you will join me in this timeless adventure.
And if you decide not to read any more, hey, no problem, because you’re not the one I was waiting for anyway. But if you decide to read on, then guess what? You’re my kind of time being and together we’ll make magic! – Nao Yasutani