Viking Adult; First Printing edition (March 12, 2013)
From the author’s website:
“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.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize
Zen Buddhism, Japanese culture, WWI, suicide, and the meaning of honor arrive in a Hello Kitty lunch box containing a diary, some letters, and an old watch. Ruth, an author who is struggling with writing her memoir and haunted by the recent death of her mother, finds herself drawn into the lives of a Japanese family through the contents of the lunch box that has washed up on the shoreline of the very rustic and remote island where she lives.
Moving from the present to the past; from the east to the west, from philosophy to quantum physics; Oseki takes her readers on a somewhat mysterious and mystical journey. This book made me laugh and it made me cry. The characters are so strongly written; I couldn’t help but get wrapped up in the stories of their lives.
Overall, the story is very complex and a bit difficult to describe. Sometimes, it is very harsh, brutal and heartbreaking. The book gives you a lot to think about as you move through its pages. One of the ideas that spoke to me is that of perspective; how you believe something is true, only to learn that you were looking at it all wrong. This is where the book shines some light through otherwise dark topics.
4 1/2 Stars
© Robin Tjernagel 2013
A Note: With a limited amount of time for reading these days, I feel I must choose my books carefully. Sometimes, I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong. There are at least three books I have started in the past two months and never finished, whose reviews won’t make it here. I have decided to only write reviews for books I like and would recommend.