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Julie Otsuka

Author of The Buddha in the Attic

4+ Works 5,380 Members 346 Reviews 6 Favorited

About the Author

Includes the names: Julie Otsuka, lulie otsuka

Works by Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the Attic (2011) 2,596 copies
When the Emperor Was Divine (2002) 2,270 copies
The Swimmers (2022) 513 copies
Diem Perdidi 1 copy

Associated Works

The Best American Short Stories 2012 (2012) — Contributor — 357 copies
100 Years of The Best American Short Stories (2015) — Contributor — 279 copies
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012 (2012) — Contributor — 198 copies
Granta 117: Horror (2011) — Contributor — 174 copies
Granta 115: The F Word (2011) — Contributor — 113 copies
Granta 114: Aliens (2011) — Contributor — 94 copies
The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story (2021) — Contributor — 51 copies


Common Knowledge



this is such a beautiful and deeply moving novel! it's a tiny novel that packs an emotional punch. the first half of the story is fun and chuckle worthy. the second half, well, poor alice - the second half is more emotional. it’s a story of a woman who is losing her ability to think just when her adult daughter might be ready to form a bond. it becomes a story of a mother and a daughter and those things that neither understood nor knew about each other. the craft is near perfection. the sentences are powerful. it's tender and funny and clever. and really enjoyed, even though it's so sad, how it got progressively more emotional as the story went on. i just really enjoyed this book… (more)
Ellen-Simon | 28 other reviews | Jan 16, 2024 |
CW: Animals are harmed early in the book. DNF. This is not the quarantine book I need right now.
LibrarianDest | 113 other reviews | Jan 3, 2024 |
This was a rare first person plural narrator that I found to be executed well and actually essential to the plot. How else to properly pay respect to a whole generation of picture brides in the early twentieth century, getting the reader invested in a life that would inevitably be cut short without leaving us unmoored in a narrative?

The plot hurtles through a carousel of lives, losing some, picking another up, following one through for longer, all the while presenting a unified and yet multitude of experiences. I only learnt some years ago that there was a huge migration of Japanese men to the Americas as cheap labour during the early 20th century. I appreciated how this book brought the women's experiences to the forefront, humanising and personalising the stories that history books had tended to relegate as a postscript to a postscript in American immigration history.

On the downside of knowing some history, I can't tell if the book intended for the reader to feel the tension of knowing what laid ahead for these women, specifically the internment camps in WWII. It was very good strategic planning to use the first person plural, that the narrative did not let the reader linger long on atrocities since the characters themselves also couldn't if they wanted to survive. They were mentioned almost as if being rattled off a list, to form a collective scar that underpinned all the characters' experiences, and to show how even though those stories cannot be truly told, those experiences reverberated through the surviving women. This book would be a very good introduction to a less-talked-about part of history, and very suitable to high schoolers and up.
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kitzyl | 202 other reviews | Nov 19, 2023 |
I LOVED this book. It shows us the lives of these anonymous women starting off from one similar point - mail order brides on a boat from Japan to America in the early 1900s - and how each experience could go lots of ways and they all are just one tiny thread in the tapestry of life. Here is an example:

"Some of us worked quickly to impress them. Some of us worked quickly just to show them that we could pick plums and top beets and sack onions and crate berries just as quickly if not more quickly than the men. Some of us worked quickly because we had spent our entire childhoods bent over barefoot in the rice paddies and already knew what to do. Some of us worked quickly because our husbands had warned us that if we did not they would send us home on the very next boat. I asked for a wife who was able and strong. Some of us came from the city, and worked slowly, because we had never before held a hoe. "Easiest job in America," we were told. Some of us had been sickly and weak all our lives but after one week in the lemon groves of Riverside we felt stronger than oxen. One of us collapsed before she had even finished weeding her first row."

A subtle book, with flashes of sadness and flashes of goodness, all building to a quiet intensity of emotion. By the end of the book I felt my heart racing because it felt like I had truly seen how life goes, the good and bad and the sheer blind chance of it all.
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blueskygreentrees | 202 other reviews | Jul 30, 2023 |



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