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A Tale for the Time Being Audiobook, by Ruth Ozeki Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Ruth Ozeki Narrator: Ruth Ozeki Publisher: Penguin Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2013 ISBN: 9781101605301
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A brilliant, unforgettable, and long-awaited novel from bestselling author Ruth Ozeki “A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.” In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future. Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “As we read Nao’s story and the story of Ozeki’s reading of it, as we go back and forth between the text and the notes, time expands for us. It opens up onto something resembling narrative eternity…page after page, slowly unfolding. And what a beautiful effect that is for a novel to create.”

    NPR’s All Things Considered (audio review)

  • “For Ruth, Ozeki’s tone is slightly worried and obsessive as she reads the diary aloud to her husband. She lends a note of childishness and forced cheerfulness to Nao and her (literally) purple prose. The intoned prayers of gratitude from Nao’s great-grandmother, a feminist Buddhist nun, are genius. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “Forget the proverbial message in a bottle: This tale fractures clichés as it affirms the lifesaving power of words…[and] reinforces the pricelessness of the here and now.”


  • “A powerful yarn of fate and parallel lives.”

    Good Housekeeping

  • “Masterfully woven…Entwining Japanese language with WWII history, pop culture with Proust, Zen with quantum mechanics, Ozeki alternates between the voices of two women to produce a spellbinding tale.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “An extraordinary novel…Nao is an inspired narrator and her quest to tell her great grandmother’s story, to connect with her past and with the larger world, is both aching and true. Ozeki is one of my favorite novelists and here she is at her absolute best—bewitching, intelligent, hilarious, and heartbreaking, often on the same page.”

    Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • A Tale for the Time Being is equal parts mystery and meditation. The mystery is a compulsive, gritty page-turner. The meditation—on time and memory, on the oceanic movement of history, on impermanence and uncertainty, but also resilience and bravery—is deep and gorgeous and wise. A completely satisfying, continually surprising, wholly remarkable achievement, this is a book to be read and reread.”

    Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author

  • A Tale for the Time Being is a timeless story. Ruth Ozeki beautifully renders not only the devastation of the collision between man and the natural world but also the often miraculous results of it. She is a deeply intelligent and humane writer who offers her insights with a grace that beguiles. I truly love this novel.”

    Alice Sebold, New York Times bestselling author 

  • “There is far too much to say about this remarkable and ambitious book in a few sentences. This is for real and not just another hyped-up blurb. A Tale for the Time Being is a great achievement, and it is the work of a writer at the height of her powers. Ruth Ozeki has not only reinvigorated the novel itself, the form, but she’s given us the tried and true, deep, and essential pleasure of characters whom we love and who matter.”

    Jane Hamilton, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Profoundly original, with authentic, touching characters and grand, encompassing themes, Ruth Ozeki’s novel proves that truly great stories—like this one—can both deepen our understanding of self and remind us of our shared humanity.”

    Deborah Harkness, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Sixteen-year-old schoolgirl Nao Yasutani’s voice is the heart and soul of this very satisfying book…The contemporary Japanese style and use of magical realism are reminiscent of author Haruki Murakami.”

    USA Today

  • “Delightful yet sometimes harrowing…Many of the elements of Nao’s story—schoolgirl bullying, unemployed suicidal ‘salarymen,’ kamikaze pilots—are among a Western reader’s most familiar images of Japan, but in Nao’s telling, refracted through Ruth’s musings, they become fresh and immediate, occasionally searingly painful.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “As contemporary as a Japanese teenager’s slang but as ageless as a Zen koan, Ruth Ozeki’s new novel combines great storytelling with a probing investigation into the purpose of existence…Ozeki’s profound affection for her characters, which warmed her earlier novels…makes A Tale for the Time Being as emotionally engaging as it is ­intellectually provocative.”

    Washington Post

  • “A terrific novel full of breakthroughs both personal and literary…Nao’s voice—funny, profane and deep—is stirring and unforgettable as she ponders the meaning of her life.”

    Seattle Times

  • A Tale for the Time Being combines a fictional though fact-based version of Ozeki’s life with that of a sixteen-year-old Japanese girl contemplating suicide in Tokyo…Ozeki leaves us at a moment in time where, as in quantum physics, there are no absolutes in terms of past, present, and future. Just Nao. And that’s such a pleasure.”

    New York Daily News

  • “Ozeki has shown herself to be a careful, considerate writer who obviously insists on writing what she wants to write and in the fashion she prefers. That special care and concern are also detectable in her latest novel, an intriguing, even beautiful narrative remarkable for its unusual but attentively structured plot…We go from one story line to the other, back and forth across the Pacific, but the reader never loses place or interest.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Magnificent…The novel’s seamless web of language, metaphor, and meaning can’t be disentangled from its powerful emotional impact: these are characters we care for deeply, imparting vital life lessons through the magic of storytelling. A masterpiece, pure and simple.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Absorbing…The characters’ lives are finely drawn…Nao’s winsome voice contrasts with Ruth’s intellectual ponderings to make up a lyrical disquisition on writing’s power to transcend time and place. This tale from Ozeki, a Zen Buddhist priest, is sure to please anyone who values a good story broadened with intellectual vigor.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “If you found a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore, containing an old diary, would it change your life? The answer in Ozeki’s tale is emphatically YES. There’s much weirdness and wonder in store in this new novel from the author of My Year of Meats.”


  • “Ingenious and touching…I read it with great pleasure.”

    Philip Pullman, award–winning author of The Golden Compass

  • “A wise and wonderfully inventive story that will resonate through time.”

    Gail Tsukiyama, author of The Samurai’s Garden

  • Selected for the March 2013 Indie Next List
  • A Barnes & Noble Best Book, March 2013
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2013
  • A BookPage Book of the Day, March 2013
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A 2013 Bookpage Most Anticipated Book
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
  • A 2013 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A Los Angeles Times bestseller
  • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books, Best Fiction 2013
  • A 2013 Booklist Editors’ Choice
  • A San Francisco Chronicle bestseller
  • An NPR bestseller
  • A 2013 BookPage Best Book
  • Winner of the 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction
  • A 2014 Indies Choice Book Award Honoree for Adult Fiction
  • A 2014 ALA Notable Book for Adult Ficiton
  • A 2013 Man Booker Prize Finalist
  • A 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
  • A 2013 Salon Best Book

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ronald | 5/2/2017

    " For the time being I would say that I love the book. Don't waste a moment. Great imagery of Japan and Vancouver Island. "

About the Author

Ruth Ozeki is a filmmaker and novelist who has won major awards in both fields. Her first novel, My Year of Meats, won the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Award, the Imus/Barnes & Noble American Book Award, and a Special Jury Prize of the World Cookbook Awards in Versailles. All Over Creation was a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the American Book Award, as well as the 2004 WILLA Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction. She began her media career as an art director in film, switched to directing television documentaries, and then began making her own films, of which Body of Correspondence won the New Visions Award at the San Francisco Film Festival. A frequent speaker on college and university campuses, she serves on the advisory editorial board of the Asian American Literary Review.