Editor's Lit: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Updated: 14 Jun 2013

Time Out says

Rating: 3/5
RM31.90, Canongate

If you’re a fan of books such as the philosophical ‘Sophie’s World’ and the cryptic ‘Griffin and Sabine’ where the mysterious appearance of letters binds two absolute strangers together, ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ by Ruth Ozeki should be added to your collection.

Defining a time being as ‘someone who lives in time’, Ozeki writes about a lonely life of a 16-year old Japanese girl in Tokyo who is cruelly bullied in school, displaced and dealing with a suicidal father. We know this through the pages of a diary that washes up onto the shore of a remote island across the ocean as part of the debris from the 2011 tsunami and found by a female novelist (we assume, the author herself).

Ozeki narrates a beguiling tale that unfurls as the novelist immerses herself into the teenager’s drama and as yet untold fate within the diary and juxtaposes them into her own present – hence herself becoming a time being. With every page she reads, worry and determination to find out whether the girl survives the tragic occurrences in her young life grows.

Therein lies a gripping plot, the mystery and finally, an inspiring climax as the novelist is swept by the teenager’s conversational but aching words, changing her life and, shelving cynicism for a day, might even change yours (after reading her diary in its entirety). In the end, what you’ll realise the point here is the attempt to connect – to anything, everything, the past, the future, to make sense if not accept of what doesn’t and ‘the search for home’.

All that sounds rather bleak, but push that thought away because there are vivid splashes of humour amid heartbreak that Ozeki balances so well in her prose. In other words, there’ll be laughter through your tears when reading this. Or it will simply bewitch you. Either way, your effort to read it right to the end won’t be wasted. Su Aziz

This book is available at any Borders book stores. For more info, see website.

Tags: Books