In Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth, a novelist living in an isolated island off the coast of British Columbia, finds a package washed up on the beach during a morning walk. Inside is a Hello Kitty Lunch box containing, among other objects, the diary of Nao, a suicidal American teenager living in Japan. Ruth believes the package washed up as a result of the 2011 Japanese earthquake, and is soon consumed by discovering Nao’s fate. Alternating between Ruth’s life on the island and excerpts from Nao’s diary, the reader learns how Nao ended up in Tokyo, as well as the stories of Nao’s great-grandmother, a 104 year-old Zen Buddhist nun, and Nao’s great-uncle Haruki #1, a World War II kamikaze pilot. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize and praised as a “a tantalizing narration that brandishes mysteries to be solved and ideas to be explored” by The Washington Post, A Tale for the Time Being was one of 2013’s most acclaimed novels. Ozeki spoke to Brendan Dowling via telephone on January 2nd and 6th.
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