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

by Julie Otsuka

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1,2781256,154 (3.77)181
Member:Poprockz
Title:The Buddha in the Attic
Authors:Julie Otsuka
Info:Knopf (2011), Hardcover, 144 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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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 181 mentions

English (110)  French (4)  Italian (3)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (125)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
A series of stories about Japanese women in the early 1990's traveling to meet their new husbands in America. The stories use spare prose, and a royal "we" language to tell the story of landing in San Francisco, fanning out over California, then being rounded up during WWII and sent to internment camps during the war. The method of storytelling reminded me a lot of O'Brien's Things We Left Behind way of story telling ( )
  nancynova | Jul 20, 2014 |
An uncommon book, given that it's written in the first person plural. The device worked well in my view, although it might not appeal to everyone. It came across to me as a sort of cubist patchwork of images, which resulted in a complex - and lovely - vision of the Japanese "picture brides" in California. Almost an extended poem, but very absorbing. At times I could hardly put it down, although it is in no way a typical page turner. ( )
  meredk | Jul 18, 2014 |
In this short novel, I got a deep, sad, account of what life was like for Japanese immigrants. This is the story of several Japanese women, who made the journey from Japan to San Francisco after marrying their husbands (sight unseen). When they arrive--their husbands are not who they said they were--their pictures might be them, several years earlier, or might be someone completely different. Their husbands "take them"...repeatedly in many different ways, and put them to work: in the fields, as maids, as whores. They have children (or don't), they work, they toil, then they are interned by the US goverment.

The book was written in an interesting first-person plural point of view: "This happened to us; we came from small towns" etc.

Overall an interesting book, pretty small and easy to read. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Enjoyed as I was reading it, but two months later I don't remember it strongly. ( )
  judgedee | Jun 22, 2014 |
Novel is a misnomer for this hypnotic indeterminate prose work. Listing, repetition (anaphora)bring Biblical cadences to this reportage (Japanese American immigrant experience up to & including internment during WWII). This is a Song of Ourselves sung by "we" who are the collective body (mostly female)both part of and apart from an America now called homeland. Mail-order brides, tenant farmers, itinerant field workers, gardeners, maids, prostitutes, shopkeepers, students, American-born children. The moment of disarray, of absence immediately following the expulsion to the camps brings to mind the film A Day Without a Mexican, here transcribed to A Day Without a Japanese American. Experience becomes both universal & entirely personal & unique. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (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
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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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