This is Ruth Ozeki’s third novel, shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2013.
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 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 a 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 humour 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.
I think this is a remarkable novel, well deserved to be shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2013. It is the first time that I have awarded a book five stars. For me it ticked all of the boxes, it is beautifully written. The character of Nao comes alive through the reading of her diary, drawing you into her world, where the brutality of some of the things she has to endure is counterbalanced by the spiritual guidance and love she receives from Old Jiko, her great grandmother. You can’t help but share in Ruth’s determination to find out what has happened to Nao and her family. The novel left me with a heightened sense of the here and now, as each person’s individual destiny can be altered, in a single moment, that’s all it takes to destroy lives. Equally the same moment in time may have no consequences if influenced by a different set of circumstances. It also left me feeling a bit sad and strangely optimistic at the same time too. If you like to think deeply, this is definitely the novel for you. I expect that I will return to this novel in the future and re-read it again, because one reading just doesn’t seem to do it justice.
Have you read A tale for The Time Being? Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx