A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING
A brilliant, unforgettable, and long-awaited novel from bestselling author Ruth OzekiRead an excerpt »
“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 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.
My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.
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. As for me, right now I am sitting in a French maid café in Akiba Electricity Town, listening to a sad chanson that is playing sometime in your past, which is also my present, writing this and wondering about you, somewhere in my future. And if you’re reading this, then maybe by now you’re wondering about me, too.
"A Tale for the Time Being is a downright miraculous book that will captivate you from the very first page. Profoundly original, with authentic, touching characters and grand, encompassing themes, Ruth Ozeki 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 Tale for the Time Being is 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, with the 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. A Tale for the Time Being is one of those novels that will renew your faith in literature.”
—Junot Díaz, National Book Award finalist and author of the Pulitzer Prize winner The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
"Ingenious and touching, A Tale for the Time Being is also highly readable. And interesting: the contrast of cultures is especially well done. I read it with great pleasure."
— Philip Pullman award-winning author of The Golden Compass
“Ruth Ozeki is a fearless writer, and this novel is terrific in every sense: beautiful, gripping, thought-provoking. A story I savored and will return to.”
—Madeline Miller, author of the Orange Prize winner The Song of Achilles
“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 the often miraculous results of it. She is a deeply intelligent and humane writer who offers her insights with a grace that beguiles. I truly love this novel.”
— Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
“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, this is a book to be read and reread.”
— Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“There is far too much to say about this remarkable and ambitious book in a few sentences. This is for real and not just another hyped-up blurb. A Tale for the Time Being is a great achievement, and it is 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, author of A Map of the World