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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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,186None6,763 (3.76)174
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. 30
    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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English (104)  French (4)  Italian (3)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 104 (next | show all)
This book delivers a truly unique and unforgettable reading experience. Written in plural form ("we"),which is not a common form, what a great way to emphasize the commonality of these women's lives, even as their stories took different paths. The form also contributes to a realness, and a sense of immediacy, urgency and anxiety that made me feel part of the action, as if I,too, was a part of their community.

Otsuka's prose is in a way poetry --an image, an allusion, a word, and you "get" it. Short phrases of what a person wore, said, or did are like the brushstrokes of a larger portrait or like the stitches woven in an intricate tapestry.

While it doesn't take long to get through 129 pages, I wouldn't classify this as a "quick read" or a "light" read. It took only a couple of days, true, but I lingered over much of it, savored the words with the story.

( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
This is a very interesting and powerful poem novella about the coming and going of Japanese immigrants around the time of WWII. I liked the style of the poem as Julie Otsuka told the story through the lives and point of views of many people at once. The repetitive verses made the poem fluid and the historical aspect made it enlightening. ( )
  Dnaej | Mar 14, 2014 |
This is a very interesting and powerful poem novella about the coming and going of Japanese immigrants around the time of WWII. I liked the style of the poem as Julie Otsuka told the story through the lives and point of views of many people at once. The repetitive verses made the poem fluid and the historical aspect made it enlightening. ( )
  Dnaej | Mar 14, 2014 |
I didn't like it at first. The fact that all of the characters at once are talking was not appealing at first, but grew on me. It is the story of Japanese brides who come to join their Japanese husbands and are treated badly to say the least. ( )
  MarkMeg | Mar 1, 2014 |
In the early 1900s, many Japanese women traveled from their villages to California as "picture brides," the intended of men already in America who sent them letters and pictures and the money to come to the U.S. to marry them and work with them. Told in a collective "we," this is the story of many of those women from their time on the boat to the internment during World War 2.

This slight book is at once a potentially quick read and one that you want to take your time reading. The unique narrative structure seldom focuses on one individual - though there are moments when an individual speaks or otherwise stands out from the crowd - but gives a panorama of a collective experience. A fascinating, challenging read that would be perfect for a book club willing to read more experimental, literary fiction. ( )
  bell7 | Feb 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 104 (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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