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The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
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The Buddha in the Attic (2011)

by Julie Otsuka

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,9181745,329 (3.77)237
  1. 51
    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 237 mentions

English (158)  French (4)  German (4)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  Piratical (1)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (175)
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
I didn't love nor hate this book. The reason I didn't love or hate this book is because it didn't have a story. This had many stories of the picture brides and what happened to them when they came to the west coast.

To see how they were treated not only by their husbands but also their employers, and people they met here. To think that we as a society treated and some still do treat people of different cultures so cruelly and with such disrespect for their well being. I like to think that we as a society have improved and aren't living in the 'dark ages'.

I am now interested in reading Julie's first book to see if I enjoy that one more since it has a story of just one family. ( )
  crazy4reading | Jan 17, 2019 |
Such a good book! The Buddha in the Attic is about Japanese picture brides coming to America in the years before WWII. It's told from all of their perspectives and experiences from the boat ride, seeing their husbands for the first time, having sex, having children, working and then what happens to them, their families, the lives they built after Pearl Harbor happened. I love how it was written no set characters and it shows the diversity of these women's experiences during this time. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Oct 4, 2018 |
3.5 stars. I actually liked the lyricism of the first-person plural POV and I liked the general poetry of the writing. Obviously, the characterization is minimal, but the richness of the communal detail is lovely. ( )
  jeninmotion | Sep 27, 2018 |
This is a fairly easy read written primarily in first person plural. It tells about the experiences of Japanese brides brought to San Francisco in the first quarter of the 20th Century until the start of World War II when Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps upon the order of the president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. ( )
  baughga | Sep 21, 2018 |
A short book, a quick read and totally absorbing. I loved the style of writing, it caught me up, gathered me in and carried me along with the wonderful dialogue. I felt as if all the characters were seated in my lounge room. Everyone talking, chatting, crying, sitting quietly, arguing, hugging, laughing communing …..altogether, all at once! For what is a sad tale, I was captivated. ( )
  Fliss88 | Aug 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 158 (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 editionscalculated
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.

» see all 5 descriptions

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