"I’m afraid my day is approaching and my next ‘official’ letter to you may be the last one you receive from me. But no matter what nonsense I write in it, please know that those are not my last words. There are other words and other worlds, dear Mother. You have taught me that."
A Tale for the Time Being (published 11th March) opens with Ruth finding the diary of Nao, a teenage girl from Japan, washed up on the beach of a Canadian island. As she begins to read, we’re drawn into the novel’s overarching theme - what does the relationship between reader and author really entail? About halfway through this book I got a bit curious about Ruth Ozeki herself, and if her husband is really an artist called Oliver (he is) and started to do a bit of googling to find out, at which point I realised what Ozeki had done; while in the novel she was searching the internet for proof that Nao was a real person, I, the reader, was doing the same thing about her (I even had a quick search for Nao’s name, you never know). This blurring of reality between each person’s story is what makes this novel so enthralling.
Canongate are really getting behind this novel, I admit was a bit skeptical when I saw the plans for a multi-format publication (including what looks like a japanese bound hardback). But, now I’ve actually read it, I can see why they’re excited. If this isn’t on ‘best of’ lists at the end of this year I’ll be incredibly irritated and might have to fling something out of a window.