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A Tale for the Time Being Hardcover – Mar 12 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; Fourth Printing edition (March 12 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670067040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670067046
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.3 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 662 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #97,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"a masterpiece, pure and simple" - Kirkus Reviews

"Saturated with love, ideas and compassion. It is, in short, an absolute treat." - The Sunday Times (UK)

Like a wise but playful teacher, [Ozeki] guides us through her latest novel by periodically questioning what we know of the story and how we know it…This book pays its deepest homage to Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, but it also shares much in common with the books of Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Anton Wilson. Like them, Ozeki manages to turn existential conundrums into a playful, joyful and pleasantly mind-bending dialogue between reader and writer. - Globe and Mail

In clever and deeply affecting ways, Ruth Ozeki’s luminous new novel explores notions of duality, causation, honour, and time. - Quill & Quire

“Ozeki has great fun in this novel…Fiction and non-fiction blend and dissolve, creating an intriguing, fluid form of storytelling.” - Chatelaine

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

"Ingenious and touching, A Tale for the Time Being is also highly readable. And interesting: the contrast of cultures is especially well done. I greatly look forward to Ruth Ozeki’s next book." - Philip Pullman, New York Times bestselling author of His Darkest Materials trilogy

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

“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 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

About the Author

RUTH OZEKI is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Shambhala Sun, and More, among other publications. In June 2010, she was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ozeki’s style is filled with what seem like off-handed metaphors whose meanings are both subtle and vivid, that you might think you’re watching this on film. The rice-paper thinness of the prose belies its hidden depths, and makes reading this into something totally experiential. It’s as if the story washes over you like a lightly perfumed mist or dances on your thoughts like the whisper of a sweet, fresh breeze of spring on the air. In short, “A Tale for the Time Being” is a totally unique novel and one that will probably create its own sort of earthquake and tsunami – and rightly so, because it is just that marvelous.

Ruth Ozeki’s novel “A Tale for the Time Being” deserves far more than only five stars out of five, and isn’t just highly recommended, it should be mandatory reading! If you read only one book this year, make it this one.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Old Tiko, the 104 year old Zen Buddhist priest and her great grand-daughter Nao are inspired and beautifully drawn characters. Less so is the author's selfie character Ruth who sometimes gets lost on long winding tangents, like the Schrodinger's cat schtick, which really helped to drag on, and drag down, the ending. And the voice of Haruki #1 does not ring true as a young man of his era, circa 1944.

Still, it's an excellent book and Ruth Ozeki is a very fine writer.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Ruth Ozeki is one of my favourite writers. I like that in some ways we start from a similar base - a conjoining of Canadian & Japanese pop culture and history, but Ozeki finds ways to challenge me and enlighten me. Of course I know that she is not writing just for me, but like all my favourite books it feels like the author really is speaking to me.

I think that is how Ruth, the protagonist in A Tale for the Time Being, feels when she finds the diary of Nao, a Tokyo schoolgirl who is so troubled she is contemplating suicide. The diary holds Nao's thoughts on her life, her meditations on life itself, and her journey to find out what she can and share what she learns about her inspirational Buddhist nun great-grandmother. This story affects her more than one would ever expect.

I don't know if there is anything I can add to what people already know about Ozeki's brilliance. Her voices for Nao, Ruth, and even Jiko are so very distinct and realistic. But there is so much surrealism that abounds- you are never really sure what Nao is saying is really all the truth but there is always some truth in her Proustian memories.

Just as with her previous novels, My Year of Meats and All Over Creation, Ozeki manages to blend the lamentable with the laughable. Her infusion of humour makes the horrible things that occur more manageable. Also just as in her previous novels, Ozeki weaves a tale you don't want to end just so you can keep reading her philosophies and delectable phrases.
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By Christa Seeley TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 25 2013
Format: Audio CD
“Life is full of stories. Or maybe life is only stories.”

After hearing Ruth Ozeki read in Toronto I knew I would have listen to the audiobook. She has the most fantastic voice. It’s energetic and also very soothing. Usually I can usually only listen to an audiobook for an hour or so at a time but with Ozeki narrating I easily doubled that. Her voice draws you in and makes you want to learn more.

A Tale for the Time Being is a tragic story that touches on a number of issues and themes but the one that stood out to me the most was that of suicide. It explored the idea of suicide from a variety of angles (from Japanese notions of honour, to the people who jumped out of the towers during 9/11) and provides a lot of food for thought. Nao’s story is an emotional one and at times hard to read. I loved the back and forth between her narration and Ruth’s. I could really relate to Ruth and her reactions to Nao’s story felt so authentic.

This is an incredible story of loss, of courage and of moving forward. There’s a reason A Tale for the Time Being is making all the “best of” lists. Ruth Ozeki has a way with words- both on the page and off.

This and other reviews at More Than Just Magic ([...]
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I couldn't stop reading this book, but I found the ending left me dissatisfied. The novel ended so abruptly and left me with many unanswered questions about the characters' problems being resolved.
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Format: Kindle Edition
It isn't often that I continue to think about a book weeks after I've read the final page, but I've been doing exactly that since finishing this one. Perhaps it's a personal interest in all things Japanese and, of course, in the beautiful Cortes Island. Not to mention the deeply spiritual aspect of this particular tale. Sometimes an ugly snotty side of me sees that a "local" author wrote a particular book and I think, "Hmmmm. It's probably not going to be that good." I think this harkens back to a twisted insecurity us Canadians often had in the past about not being good enough. But that was then and things are very different now. This book is more than good enough. It's excellent. Beautifully written with wonderful characters and locales. At times it tugged at my heart so powerfully that I needed to put it down to ponder what I'd just read, but even that, too, was good. A wonderful story of memory, hope, love, longing and family. Don't think twice, just get this book and start the journey.
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