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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


A Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki

[an overview of the reviews and critical reactions]

general information | review summaries | links | about the author

To purchase A Tale for the Time Being

Title: A Tale for the Time Being
Author: Ruth Ozeki
Genre: Novel
Written: 2013
Length: 418 pages
Availability: A Tale for the Time Being - US
A Tale for the Time Being - UK
A Tale for the Time Being - Canada
A Tale for the Time Being - India

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Why we haven't reviewed it yet:

Gave it a hundred pages; couldn't get into the flow

Chances that we will review it:

It's possible

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Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Globe and Mail . 29/3/2013 Lucy Silag
The Guardian . 15/3/2013 Liz Jensen
The Independent A 9/3/2013 Doug Johnstone
The LA Times . 21/3/2013 David L. Ulin
The NY Times . 2/4/2013 Lisa Schwarzbaum
The Spectator B+ 30/3/2013 Diana Hendry
Sunday Times . 17/3/2013 Lucy Atkins
The Telegraph . 11/6/2013 Beth Jones
The Times . 9/3/2013 Kate Saunders
TLS . 5/4/2013 Natasha Lehrer
The Washington Post A 10/3/2013 Wendy Smith

  Review Consensus:

  Most find it quite agreeable, some very impressed

  From the Reviews:
  • "A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is expansive, provocative and sometimes rather confusing. But thatís okay. Itís supposed to be." - Lucy Silag, The Globe and Mail

  • "Seen from space, or from the vantage point of those conversant with Zen principles, A Tale for the Time Being is probably a deep and illuminating piece of work, with thoughtful things to say about the slipperiness of time. But for those positioned lower in the planet's stratosphere, Ozeki's novel often feels more like the great Pacific gyre it frequently evokes: a vast, churning basin of mental flotsam in which SchrŲdinger's cat, quantum mechanics, Japanese funeral rituals, crow species, fetish cafes, the anatomy of barnacles, 163 footnotes and six appendices all jostle for attention. It's an impressive amount of stuff." - Liz Jensen, The Guardian

  • "The warmth, compassion, wisdom and insight with which Ozeki pieces all these stories together will have the reader linked in a similarly profound way to this fantastic novel." - Doug Johnstone, The Independent

  • "A Zen priest herself, she has written something of a Buddhist novel, fueled by an abiding sense of paradox. (...) That's heady stuff, but it hangs together for a couple of reasons -- the exuberance of Ozeki's writing, the engaging nature of her characters and, not least, her scrupulous insistence that it doesn't have to hang together, that even as she ties up loose ends, others come unbound." - David L. Ulin, The Los Angeles Times

  • "Dualities, overlaps, time shifts and coincidences are the currents that move A Tale for the Time Being along: This is a book that does not give up its multiple meanings easily, gently but insistently instructing the reader to progress slowly in order to contemplate the porous membrane that separates fact from fiction, self from circumstance, past from present." - Lisa Schwarzbaum, The New York Times

  • "The pleasure of this book is the way in which, with its inclusive references to everything, from history to quantum physics, Buddhist practices to literary theory, Silicon Valley to Japanese temples, it stretches the boundaries of the novel while managing to remain intensely readable." - Diana Hendry, The Spectator

  • "But the book is at its strongest not in these ambitious philosophical explorations, which can at times feel unsubtle, but in its quiet detailing of the love and pain of family life (.....) What binds it all together is the voice of Nao, who manages to be both a convincingly self-obsessed Tokyo teenager and a sympathetic and engaging narrator." - Beth Jones, The Telegraph

  • "Ozeki beautifully captures Nao's teenage voice, with its conflicting harmonies of bathos and intensity, stoicism and optimism (.....) Reaching the final pages of this fine book, the reader realizes that solace is contained in resolution's very opposite, uncertainty, offering us the far greater gift of possibility instead." - Natasha Lehrer, Times Literary Supplement

  • "Ozeki masterfully develops the two parallel stories, creating a virtual dialogue between the blocked writer and the diarist (.....) Ruthís and Naoís struggles to find meaning in their lives draw on everything from mythology and Japanese history to quantum physics and European culture. Thereís also plenty of Japanese pop culture, juicily but scathingly portrayed as exploitative of vulnerable young women and a tool in the enforcement of conformism. (...) Ozekiís profound affection for her characters (...) makes A Tale for the Time Being as emotionally engaging as it is intellectually provocative." - Wendy Smith, The Washington Post

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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A Tale for the Time Being: Reviews: Ruth Ozeki: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary American fiction

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About the Author:

       American author Ruth Ozeki was born in 1956.

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© 2013 the complete review

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