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This essay investigates the knowledge produced around Ruth Ozeki’s novel A Tale for the Time Being through a discussion of its marketing processes and its reception, as well as through textual analysis. I first draw upon Sau-ling Wong’s observations about the problem of a US-centric referential framework in the internationalization of Asian American studies to examine a Western-centric framing in the marketing strategies of the US/Canada and the UK editions of Ozeki’s novel. Next, I turn to an examination of how reviews and selected readers’ responses to Ozeki’s novel show an at-times incoherent process of making sense of this text. In the latter part of the paper, I analyze the parallel depictions of Fukushima and Cortes Island, Ruth’s dreams, and Haruki #1’s diary in Ozeki’s novel. Attending to how Ozeki’s narratives destabilize the process of making sense, I argue that the novel is neither easy to read nor as transparent as the marketing strategies and reviews and readers’ responses suggest. The difficulties of making sense represented in A Tale for the Time Being thereby have the potential to intervene in a Western-centric, posivistic reading of the Asian other, challenging us to rethink the analytic frameworks we bring to bear while reading Asian American literary texts.



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