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The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
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The Buddha in the Attic (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Julie Otsuka

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,3651335,622 (3.78)197
Member:nehbooks
Title:The Buddha in the Attic
Authors:Julie Otsuka
Info:Anchor (2012), Paperback, 144 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Japan, immigration, internment, WWll, fiction

Work details

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (2011)

  1. 40
    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: A sweet love story but an eye-opener about Japanese and Chinese Americans at the time of Pearl Harbor attack
  2. 00
    The Lost Daughter of Happiness by Geling Yan (Limelite)
    Limelite: Not about the Japanese immigration experience, but set in San Francisco in the late 19th C., this novel evokes Chinatown and the impact Chinese and Americans had on each other depicted in a tightly personal experience. Readers will find common themes -- racism, struggle, isloation -- as in Otsuka's novella.… (more)
  3. 00
    Ru by Kim Thúy (raidergirl3)
    raidergirl3: nonlinear short chapters, immigrant experience
  4. 00
    Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (speedy74)
    speedy74: This book also provides information regarding the Japanese internment.
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» See also 197 mentions

English (117)  French (4)  German (4)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  Piratical (1)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (133)
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
This was a book club pick, and an interesting choice. It was narrated by the collective "we" which I've never seen before, but was very effective, I think, for the subject matter. It's about Japanese brides being bought and brought to America and their experiences. It ends during WWII and the Japanese being relocated to concentration camps who knows where in the US. I just finished another book called The Auschwitz Escape, and I find it ironic that we had camps like this in the US, at the same time the Nazis did in Europe. True, we weren't exterminating the Japanese, but what we did was still shameful. I liked the book and liked the author's writing style. I recommend this book. ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
This was a book club pick, and an interesting choice. It was narrated by the collective "we" which I've never seen before, but was very effective, I think, for the subject matter. It's about Japanese brides being bought and brought to America and their experiences. It ends during WWII and the Japanese being relocated to concentration camps who knows where in the US. I just finished another book called The Auschwitz Escape, and I find it ironic that we had camps like this in the US, at the same time the Nazis did in Europe. True, we weren't exterminating the Japanese, but what we did was still shameful. I liked the book and liked the author's writing style. I recommend this book. ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
Japanese women come to the US as brides. What they find is not what was promised in the letters and photos they received. They have to reconcile themselves to the lives they now lead.

I liked the sparseness and starkness of the prose. There were no characters per se but the group as a character. The relentlessness of what is happening shows the harshness, bleakness, and hopelessness of their lives. I'm glad I read it. ( )
  Sheila1957 | Mar 23, 2015 |
I loved this book, from the first page to the end, I was pulled in and didn't want to put this book down until I devoured it.

This book isn't the traditional type of novel, it's prosy, I'd say it's closer to a long narrative poem than a novel. While there are characters, they are all nameless, faceless, yet their story is told, in a beautiful, flowing narrative. From their first moments on the ship to their lives in California, they author tells their story and I found it to be beautifully well done.

You do get a full story, as the reader, you can feel the power and emotion of the characters who are speaking as one, telling their story, and while it wasn't exactly what I expected from this book, I think they way the author chose to tell the story was incredibly well done. I loved how well it flowed, how lovely the writing was, I couldn't put this book down, reading it in a sitting - truly a spectacular book

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - The Buddha in the Attic ( )
  bookwormjules | Feb 28, 2015 |
Loved it. Read it very quickly, and was sad when it was over. I really like this writing style, "collective first person" I believe it's been called, and would actually like to try it out in my own work. Highly recommended. ( )
  KelAppNic | Feb 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
This passage may give a clue as to how Julie Otsuka's book is to be read. She calls it a novel. It is closely and carefully based on factual history/ies. There are novelistically vivid faces, scenes, glimpses, voices, each for a moment only, so you cannot linger anywhere or with anyone. Information is given, a good deal of it, in the most gracefully invisible manner; and history is told. Yet the book has neither a novel's immediacy of individual experience, nor the broad overview of history. The tone is often incantatory, and though the language is direct, unconvoluted, almost without metaphor, its true and very unusual merit lies, I think, in that indefinable quality we call poetry.....I am sorry that after it, in the last chapter, she suddenly changes her narrative mode and ceases to follow her group of women. The point of view changes radically and "we" suddenly are the whites: "The Japanese have disappeared from our town."
 
Narrated in the first-person plural, The Buddha in the Attic is a slight, but powerfully moving piece of prose. It tells the story of a group of Japanese mail-order brides, from their journey to America, through marriage, work, childbirth and motherhood, until they and their entire communities are rounded up at the beginning of the war....Some might find the plurality of voice troubling, suggesting that it does little to restore individual identities to those whom history has forgotten, but I would argue the opposite. A host of individual characters and experiences crystallise as families and communities take root
 
But the book’s plural voice is particularly effective at capturing their long, giddy conversations on the ship as they wonder if American men really grow hair on their chests, put ­pianos in their front parlors and dance “cheek to cheek all night long” with their lucky wives....But no story in the conventional sense ever develops, and no individuals emerge for more than a paragraph....Had we known them as full individuals — as real and diverse and distinct — we couldn’t have whisked them away to concentration camps in the desert. A great novel should shatter our preconceptions, not just lacquer them with sorrow.
 

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Julie Otsukaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Scholtz, KatjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported. And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born; and their children after them.

—ECCLESIASTICUS 44:8-9
Barn's burnt down—
now
I can see the moon.

—MASAHIDE
Dedication
For Andy
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On the boat we were mostly virgins.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307700003, Hardcover)

Finalist for the 2011 National Book Award


Julie Otsuka’s long awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine (“To watch Emperor catching on with teachers and students in vast numbers is to grasp what must have happened at the outset for novels like Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird” —The New York Times) is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as ‘picture brides’ nearly a century ago.

In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces their extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.

In language that has the force and the fury of poetry, Julie Otsuka has written a singularly spellbinding novel about the American dream. 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:26 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early twentieth-century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment.

(summary from another edition)

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