A Tale For The Time Being – Ruth Ozeki (2013)


A Tale For The Time Being is a magical realism, wherein the author herself is a protagonist, as is her husband, and a young Japanese girl who wrote a diary. The book switches points of view between Ruth, the reader of the diary, and Nao, the 15 year old girl who wrote the diary. Ruth is a blocked writer, living on a tiny British Columbia island with her husband Oliver and their cat. Nao is a teenage girl who spent most of her life living comfortably in California, before returning to Japan, where she was bullied in a way that feels more like torture than bullying. Somehow, Nao’s diary washes up on Ruth’s beach and she begins to read it. Ruth channels the energy that she has been stymied from putting towards her writing into discovering all she can about Nao and her father, whose greatest hobby is trying to kill himself. The book is populated with Buddhist nuns, anthropologists, beachcombers, violent teens, a pimp, and many other colourful characters. Beyond the story, there is philosophy and theology and what it means to be Now. An interesting note for the reader is that Ozeki herself is Buddhist nun, so there is the element of authenticity to the prayers and ideological philosophies discussed. It is definitely, definitely worth the read. It is important, however, to remember that you must suspend your disbelief in order to fully immerse yourself, as is the case with all magical realism. (422 pages)

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