I know, I missed last week. Life. Sorry. But, I’m back with A Tale for the Time Being, a book that woke me up and pulled me in, even as the entire reading experience was a meditative one.
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.
Why I Love It:
This is a story about drift. Drift in the sense of ocean currents that wash artifacts up on a distant shore. Drift in the sense of our lives, as we bob along, hopefully keeping our heads above the waves but sometimes finding it easier to let ourselves sink down to the bottom. And I think that the best headspace to read this book in, is to allow yourself to drift through the story.
It is a story that winds the lives of our two narrators, calling into question the role of reader and storyteller by way of quantum physics and Buddhism. Curious? Confused? Either you’ll really get into A Tale for the Time Being, or it won’t be your cup of tea. I suspect that fellow Murakami lovers will enjoy the existential nature of it.
So I’m not going to tell you any more. I’m not going to dissect character or give you more plot than you already have. Get comfortable, open it, take a deep breath, and plunge.