The story begins with a 16-year-old girls voice saying: “Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.” This child’s story is compelling and sometimes funny and sometimes very difficult. Nao is trying to figure out life and how to live it after having been living the “good” life in California and now whisked back to Japan in the dot com bust. Her father is extremely depressed and it is affecting the whole family. The guilt, the anger, the shame is difficult to understand and yet it draws one into the story. The bullying and shaming that Nao must endure is horrific.
There is a second story that takes place on an island on the British Columbia Coastline. Ruth, a writer, is wandering the beach and finds a “Hello Kitty” lunch pail in a heavy plastic shipping bag. When opened the lunch pail contains a journal and a Kamikaze pilot’s letters and watch, it appears to be debris from the Japanese tsunami of 2011. It is Nao’s journal and her story and history.
The story is also about the Zen experience of life as shared by Nao’s lessons from her 104 year old great grandmother, who is the mother of the Kamikaze pilot. How can there be humor in such a story? There is a great deal of humor in the story. The characters on the island truly come alive and participate in the story. Ruth and her partner Oliver are strong characters in their own right. Fact and fiction twirl about as compliments to understanding the deeper issues facing each person-culture. Is Nao still alive and well? How could this person be tracked down and could they all be on the Internet?
My book group chose this book and so it is apart of my own library. The other members of the group discovered that there was a reader’s play of this story being performed in the city and they bought tickets and went to the performance. We cannot stop talking about this book and we all agree that there is perfection in the writing of this story, which makes it a huge recommendation and a must read for so many people I know. I just had to share it with you
Bursting with symbolism, a story for our time – full of topics to discuss; breaks the barriers and expectations of traditional thinking.
From the website:
“Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest.Her first two novels, My Year of Meats(1998) and All Over Creation (2003), have been translated into 11 languages and published in 14 countries. Her most recent work, A Tale for the Time-Being (2013), won the LA Times Book Prize, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, and has been published in over thirty countries. Ruth’s documentary and dramatic independent films, including Halving the Bones, have been shown on PBS, at the Sundance Film Festival, and at colleges and universities across the country. A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Ruth was ordained in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City, and is currently the Elizabeth Drew Professor of Creative Writing at Smith College.”
“Tantalizing”– The Washington Post
“A spellbinding tale.” – O, The Oprah Magazine
“Fractures Clichés” – ELLE
“Delightful.” – The New York Times Book Review
“Terrific”– The Seattle Times