A Tale for the Time Being
by Ruth Ozeki
Published: March 2013
A deeply spiritual and existentialist novel traverses space, time and layers of narrative. On the one hand, this is the story of Ruth, a struggling Japanese novelist living in rural Canada with her quirky eco-artist husband and her persnickety cat. Wandering the beach one day, she finds the diary of a Japanese teenager, Nao who writes about everything from the cruel torment of middle school bullies to her great-grandmother, who is a revolutionary, feminist Zen Buddhist nun.
As the stories unravel, parallels emerge and we explore how they are related- on a quantum or spiritual level- and how the act of reading is itself is a mechanism of connecting with another being, the writer, across time. Ozeki masterfully draws from Western and Eastern philosophies’ musings on life and death, suicide and the meaning of existence.
Plus, the whole thing starts off with a pun! It both a “Tale for the Time Being” in that it is written of the present moment, as much as it is a tale written for a human time being, capable of existing in various expanses of time through the act of reading.
5 out of 5 stars: Extremely powerful and engaging, with a wide cast of well-developed, complex characters (some borderline autobiographical*).