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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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1,6021564,537 (3.77)212
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

Work details

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (2011)

  1. 50
    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (Anonymous user, SqueakyChu)
    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 212 mentions

English (140)  French (4)  German (4)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  Piratical (1)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (156)
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
a collage of experiences, 29 Jun. 2012
By
sally tarbox

This review is from: The Buddha in the Attic (Kindle Edition)
I loved this little novel, following the experiences of Japanese picture brides, coming over to the U.S. in early 20th century to marry into a better life. Once here they found their husbands didn't have the great jobs they had promised in their letters, and the new brides were forced into hard agricultural work or service...
Because she doesn't write for one character but the whole group, the reader gets a plethora of experiences. Writing the novel as 'we', the reader follows- briefly- a vast number of lives. Those who started to make good...those driven into prostitution...wonderful children and difficult ones...good and bad experiences with the American people.
As the book winds up, it's wartime and those of Japanese ethnicity are being forcibly evacuated.
Wonderful and unique work. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
If I'd not first read Julie Otsuka's earlier novel, When the Emperor was Divine, this book might have been less tiresome with its overuse of pronouns. Told in the first person plural, The Buddha in the Attic began with the speculations of a group of mail order brides as they travelled from Japan to California, through to their marriages, work, childbearing and raising families. I did not like that when Otsuka extolled their virtues it was sometimes done at the expense of other ethnic groups. The Buddha in the Attic concluded with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, which is where the earlier book began. If you've not read either and plan to read both, start with this one. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
This was breathtakingly beautiful; almost poetic in the way it was written. It was heartwrenching and made me very sad. I don't think there is a way for me to describe this book other than to say you must read it. You feel completely immersed in their world. You struggle with them, ache with (and for them). You worry for them.

This is a must read. ( )
  PriPri77 | Jun 23, 2016 |
The Buddha in the Attic –Otsuka
Audio performance by Samantha Quan and Carrington MacDuffie
3 stars

At first it was interesting; the use of collective narrative to tell the story of a group of Japanese mail order brides. The novelty wore off and it rapidly became tediously repetitious. The repetitious chorus was probably exaggerated in an audio format that made each repetitive sentence sound like a commercial sound bite. ‘One of us …blah,blah, blah. Some of us felt blah, blah,blah.’ I’m giving the book three stars because the life stories of these women were very interesting even if I did not enjoy the manner of Otsuka’s story telling.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
The Buddha in the Attic reads more like a prose poem than a novel. With the predominant theme of displacement running throughout, it is not the most lighthearted of reads. First the reader experiences the displacement of Japanese women making the uncertain voyage to America for arranged marriages, and then the displacement of entire Japanese American communities through their forced removal to internment camps during WWII. Not only does it remind the reader of a shameful moment in American history, but it also speaks to the difficulties immigrants face at any time. Short but strong work. ( )
  Matthew.Ducmanas | Mar 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 140 (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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:45 -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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