@canongatebooks work the net with @ozekiland’s Booker shortlisted ‘A Tale for the Time Being’

The first I heard of Ruth Ozeki′s novel was when it cropped up on the shortlist for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. Spurred on by the little orange Blippar sticker on the book′s cover, I investigated Canon gate′s publicity campaign. The sticker told me that if I downloaded the free Blippar app, and ‘blipped’ I would experience an interactive book cover. A what. A this…

That′s a pretty cool gimmick. Although I’m not sure how many would go out of their way to download an app. Say you did have it though and you were browsing in a bookshop, then it would be a cool idea. You could blip and it would give you a little trailer of the story. You know, if you’re too lazy to read the back and don’t mind standing in a shop hosting your own little story telling corner.

Front endpapers of A Tale for the Time BeingFor the record, the Novellas and I were glad it didn’t win the Man Booker as it didn’t score very highly in our October book club meeting. We enjoyed aspects of Ozeki′s story; the Japanese culture – in particular hearing about cosplay and ijime (bullying). It helped that one of our Novellas speaks Japanese (we are spoiled!) and has a pretty good handle on the culture. All of us loved the scenes with Nao′s Buddhist nun Jiko; the tenderness between the two was a brilliant contrast to the cruelty of Nao′s classmates and we thought the story of Jiko′s kamikaze pilot son was particularly moving. There was a much bigger story at play, Ozeki considering the nature of human kindness and consciousness, told through Nao father’s struggle in his both professional and personal life. While I imagine this accounts for the novel’s inclusion on the Man Booker lists, it didn’t rate with the Novellas from a story-telling point of view.

However, we were split on the matter of the split narrative! Some of us didn’t mind the Canadian-based Ruth and Oliver, while others would have preferred if Ozeki had just stuck with Nao and Jiko.  All of us agreed the appendices; especially the one on quantum mechanics and Schrödinger′s cat were over-egging the point. An editorial decision no doubt, but for us the story was strong enough to stand alone.

Fingers crossed for a film adaptation though.


Leave a Reply