“A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki – A Book Review

This is a novel by Ruth Ozeki, 2013 Man Booker Prize Finalist. The title may give an impression that the tale is for the time being, not permanent and is for a period in time. In actual fact, the writer wanted to tell a tale about Time Being (collective as a noun) like in Human Being. This Time Being revolves around a Japanese teenager named Nao and her family in Japan. (We are time beings and we change with time, hence termed as Time Being.)

Nao’s diary was washed ashore of a Canadian island and was picked up by a writer in the story named just Ruth. This is the start of the novel alternating between Nao’s past life and Ruth’s current time reading the diary. There is time and space between the two characters but their lives were seamlessly intertwined as if they were in the same time zone. Nao was “talking” to Ruth directly through the diary from the way she addressed the accidental reader of her diary.

The mysteries of the diary kept me going as I turned the pages. I, like Ruth, had so many unanswered questions and the search for the answers brought me into the realm of Zen Buddhism and Quantum Mechanics.

The novel described the difficulties faced by one Japanese computer scientist (Nao’s father) who lost his job in Silicon Valley and had to return to Japan. Nao faced difficulties too and was bullied in her school just because she was a transfer student from abroad. Both had to cope with suicidal intentions and the mess of conscience, guilt and honour thrown into the mix.

The writing was easy-reading and powerful in bringing out the emotions of the various characters. I thought I was going to read a total human tragedy right through to the end of the book. But one must persevere and the ending was totally unexpected. I was truly satisfied that this book deserves the finalist accolade of Man Booker Prize.IMG_1639

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