Saturday, March 29, 2014
I didn't know much about A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki, before I opened the book, other than that it is a nominated for the 2013 National Book Critic's Circle Award. And wow! It was such an inventive, readable, heartbreaking, intelligent, funny novel. The story links together the lives and voices of a 16-year old girl named Nao who lives in Tokyo, after moving to Japan after her father loses a good tech job in Sunnyvale, CA, with Ruth, a writer in Canada. Picked on mercilessly in school and dealing with her overworked mother and suicidal father, Nao takes to journaling to express herself, and to try and tell the story of her 104-year old great grandmother Jiko, a Buddhist zun. Nao's diary is found on the shore by Ruth, a writer living on an island in British Columbia after the Japanese tsunami in 2011. I found myself more considerably more interested in the parts of the novel told by Nao's perspective, but overall, this was like nothing I've read before. Refreshing - read it!