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cook*create*read: Review: A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review: A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Publisher: Canongate (2013)

First Published: 2013

From Goodreads:

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.


*sigh*  I'm not sure how to review this book.  I seem to find it more difficult to talk about books I love than books I didn't enjoy so much, and I really loved this book.  

A Tale for The Time Being is a novel that sweeps through time and place, across generations and across subject matter.  Within its' pages we learn a little about Proust, Zen Buddhism, quantum physics, modern Japanese culture, environmentalism ... just little touches that whet your appetite and leave you yearning for more.  The dual narrative works so well here, as we follow the typically teenage Nao with her teenage angst, her mood swings and teenage strops, and the adult Ruth, struggling with her own issues within her marriage, family and work.  

Perhaps the novel's only downfall for me was that I wanted to know more about my favourite character, Nao's grandmother, the 104 year old buddhist nun Jiko.  I mean, come on! Who wouldn't want to read an entire novel about a 104 year old Japanese buddhist nun named Jiko?!  I wanted more!  

This novel gained Ruth Ozeki a Man Booker Prize shortlist spot in 2013.  Having also read The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton which won the Man Booker Prize that year, I know which one is my favourite!  Ruth Ozeki is an author I had not heard of before this novel, but I will absolutely be seeking out more of her work.

(Just as a side note, I received a set of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted books for Christmas.  They came from The Book People and cost just £25 for the six books.  I was so excited to discover that I had a first edition of A Tale For The Time Being! Happiness is! :))

It goes without saying, this was a rare 5 star read for me!

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