Ruth Ozeki’s new novel will be published by Viking Penguin on March 12.
“A Tale for the Time Being” is a powerful story about the ways in which reading and writing connect two people who will never meet. Spanning the planet from Tokyo’s Electric Town to Desolation Sound, British Columbia, and connected by the great Pacific gyres, it tells the story of a washed-up diary, concealed in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, and the profound effect it has on the woman who discovers it.
Open up this book and discover: an earthquake-causing catfish, a 104-year-old Buddhist nun, French maid cafes in a manga-fied world, cyberbullying, natural disasters, Zen philosophy, the infinite possibilities of time, and an uplifting story of love, loss, and wisdom old and new.
Karen Joy Fowler, author of “The Jane Austin Book Club,” said, “I love it! ‘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.”
Ozeki’s first novel, “My Year of Meats,” was published in 1998 by Viking Penguin and has garnered widespread glowing reviews, awards, and a still-growing readership. A sexy, poignant, funny tale about global meat and media production, it tells the story of Jane and Akiko, two women on opposite sides of the planet, whose lives are connected by a TV cooking show.
“My Year of Meats” was an international success, translated into 11 languages and published in 14 countries. It won the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Award, the Imus/Barnes and Noble American Book Award, and a Special Jury Prize of the World Cookbook Awards in Versailles.
Her second novel, “All Over Creation” (Viking Penguin, 2003), shifts the focus from meat to potatoes in a story of a family farmer, his prodigal daughter, an itinerant gang of environmental activists, and a New Age corporate spin doctor, whose lives and interests collide in Liberty Falls, Idaho. A New York Times Notable Book, “All Over Creation” is the recipient of a 2004 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, as well as the Willa Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction.
Ozeki was born and raised in New Haven, Conn., by an American father and a Japanese mother. She studied English and Asian studies at Smith College and traveled extensively in Asia. She received a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship to do graduate work in classical Japanese literature at Nara University.
During her years in Japan, she worked in Kyoto’s entertainment or “water” district as a bar hostess, studied flower arrangement as well as noh drama and mask carving, founded a language school, and taught in the English Department at Kyoto Sangyo University.
Ozeki returned to New York in 1985 and began a film career as an art director, designing sets and props for low-budget horror movies. She switched to television production, and after several years directing documentary-style programs for a Japanese company, she started making her own films.
“Body of Correspondence” (1994) won the New Visions Award at the San Francisco Film Festival and was aired on PBS. “Halving the Bones” (1995), an award-winning autobiographical film, tells the story of Ozeki’s journey as she brings her grandmother’s remains home from Japan. It has been screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Museum of Modern Art, Montreal World Film Festival, and Margaret Mead Film Festival, among others.
Ozeki, a frequent speaker on college and university campuses, divides her time between New York City and British Columbia, where she lives with her husband, artist Oliver Kellhammer. She serves on the advisory editorial board of the Asian American Literary Review and the Creative Advisory Council of Hedgebrook. She practices Zen Buddhism with Zoketsu Norman Fischer, and is the editor of the Everyday Zen website. She was ordained as a Soto Zen priest in June, 2010.
Following is a list of her upcoming appearances in California. For updates and to order the book, visit www.ruthozeki.com.
Wednesday, March 20
Mysterious Galaxy, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Luncheon at Paul Martin’s, 2361 Rosecrans Ave., El Segundo
Vroman’s Bookstore, 7 p.m. Reading and signing at 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
Thursday, March 21
Copperfield’s Books & Music , 6 p.m. at Jacqueline’s High Tea, 203 Western Ave., Petaluma
Friday, March 22
Book Passage, 12 to 2 p.m. Lunch, talk and signing at 51 Tamal Vista Blvd ., Corte Madera
BookSmith , 7:30 p.m. Reading and signing at 1644 Haight St., San Francisco
Saturday, March 23
“West Coast Live” in San Francisco, venue address to come. West Coast Live on Facebook
Tuesday, March 26
Capitola Book Cafe , 7:30 p.m. Reading and signing at 1475 41st Ave., Capitola
Thursday, April 4
Hapa Japan 2013 Festival at University of Southern California, 2 to 8 p.m. Hapa Japan Book Fair, 4 to 5:30 p.m. Literary panel with Ruth Ozeki, Sesshu Foster, Velina Houston and Carlos Yushimoto de Valle at East West Players, 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles. Tickets available here.