Memphis Barker

Message in a Lunchbox

A Tale for the Time Being

By

Canongate Books 400pp £20 order from our bookshop

The first few pages of Ruth Ozeki’s Booker longlisted novel are electrifying. The reader – so used to being a wallflower – all of a sudden has nowhere to hide. From the off we are called into conversation by Nao, a smart-mouthed, hyperactive teenage girl who is writing to us in the pages of her diary from a table in a French maids’ café in Tokyo. Nao wants to be friends. But this first encounter also serves as a lesson in how and how not to read: the moment an impression of our narrator starts to solidify, it is suddenly swept aside, as Nao questions or corrects herself. Think she’s a pervert? You have to double back. Find her dippy? It’s you that trusted too fast. ‘Assumptions and expectations will kill any relationship,’ says Nao. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • With our February issue about to go to press, enjoy a slice of LR history - Hilary Mantel on Joan Haslip's biograph… ,
    • What did London look like in the 6th Century? Rory Naismith's 'Citadel of the Saxons' tries to answer that questi… ,
    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,