A Tale For the Time Being Book Review

Ruth Ozeki's A Tale For the Time Being is a must read for any lover of modern fiction.

Ruth Ozeki's A Tale For the Time Being is a must read for any lover of modern fiction.

Ruth Ozeki's A Tale For the Time Being is a must read for any lover of modern fiction.
Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale For the Time Being” is a must read for any lover of modern fiction.

   When a copy of A Tale For the Time Being came into my hands, I was immediately struck by the vibrant, warring colors and patterns lanced across it’s cover. The clashing designs mirrored the text, I would soon learn. The result was both jarring and profoundly beautiful.

   Ruth Ozeki’s novel A Tale For the Time Being is jointly narrated by two women. The first is sixteen year old Nao, who speaks to an unidentified confidant in the pages of her diary scrawled in purple ink. Yanked from her American home and plunged into the alien city of Tokyo, Nao is tortured at the hands of bullies and is haunted by her fractured family. She explains that she intends to take her own life…but not until she has documented the story of her grandmother, a Buddhist nun with a strange past.

   The second is author Ruth Ozeki herself, who miraculously comes across Nao’s journal almost a decade after it was completed, and thousands of miles from where it was transcribed…

   Raunchy, electric, and brimming with piercing wit, A Tale For the Time Being stares unflinchingly into the face of depression, suicide, and war. The novel guides the reader seamlessly from Tokyo’s seedy underbelly, to Silicone Valley, to a buddhist temple, to Nova Scotia, and deep into the mind of a reluctant Kamikaze. Straining beneath the stark weight of reality, but peppered with inexplicable moments of the supernatural, A Tale For the Time Being is a triumph of modern fiction.