A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel
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A brilliant, unforgettable novel from bestselling author Ruth Ozeki—shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award
“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.
and then he smiled. “Mr. Martin Heidegger-san.” For some reason, this really pissed me off. I didn’t know anything about Mr. Martin Heidegger-san or understand what he was talking about, but I recognized his name from one of H #1’s old philosophy books, so I knew he must be important, and here was my dad, turning Mr. Heidegger’s great mind into a bug. That did it. It was time my dad learned what a contemptible being he was. “You know your uncle Haruki studied philosophy for real,” I blurted
could have some privacy. But even then he’d poke his head into the bedroom like every five minutes. “Just let me know when you’re off, okay?” he’d say, until finally I gave up and let him have a turn, at which point he’d hog it for hours. When Mom asked him what he was doing, he lied and told her he was looking for a job. She pinched her lips together and turned away before the cutting words escaped from her mouth. She didn’t believe him, and neither did I, because we’d both been checking out
practicing revisionist history,” she said. “Is there any evidence to support this?” “Yes. There’s plenty of evidence to prove the cat is very bad. And very bald.” “I’m talking about me being better off without you.” “I don’t know. I guess not.” “Well, then, you should wear the Cone of Shame for even suggesting it. Because now you’ve gone and sentenced me to another life in another world in New York, with some boorish corporate oligarch of a husband. Thanks a lot.” She gave the cat a final pat
Oliver’s breathing. A light rain pattered on the roof. When she closed her eyes, she could see the image of a bright red Hello Kitty lunch-box bobbing on the dull grey waves. 2. In the morning, armed with a large mug of coffee, she approached her memoir with a renewed sense of resolve. A rapprochement was what was needed. An unfinished book, left unattended, turns feral, and she would need all her focus, will, and ruthless determination to tame it again. She kicked the cat off her chair,
Restaurants closed early in the Liver, and Kimi had taken a break from washing up in the kitchen to sit with Ruth and Oliver at the sushi bar, while Akira cleaned his knives and put away his fish. Their son, Tosh, had graduated from McGill University, and now worked in Victoria, but on the weekends he often drove up to help his father behind the sushi counter. “Is this home for you?” Ruth asked Tosh. “Do you mean Canada or Campbell River?” Tosh asked, looking amused. He was a tall, quiet kid,