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When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

When the Emperor Was Divine (2002)

by Julie Otsuka

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Recently added byRachelDavenSkinner, asxz, nking5, MLiberty49, nielsem, Ilzezita, Epat8, Angel381, private library
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    Obasan by Joy Kogawa (kiwidoc)
    kiwidoc: Explores Japanese internment in Canada

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English (103)  French (2)  All languages (105)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
I try to make a point to read from authors who come from a different space than I do in order to learn broadly. Julie Otsuka’s memoir/novel about her San Francisco – based family’s relocation to the Japanese internment camps during World War II was brilliant. It’s told through a few periods of time and from the perspective of an adolescent experiencing this relocation, and told from her family’s history. It’s not in-your-face political challenge, but it’s a powerful story because it is true and real.
( )
  patl | Feb 18, 2019 |
California, 1942 - a woman and her son and daughter are evacuated from their home and brought to an internment camp. Their experiences, in a series of descriptive impressions and memories, follow them through the war years and returning home afterward.

This short novel packs a powerful punch. Otsuka is deliberate in every detail of her craft, from the images she evokes to what she leaves out or only mentions in passing, to the shifts in points of view. The lack of characters' names distances them, yet at the same time, presents an almost universal example of what the experience was like for a family. And that example is so heartbreaking, cringe-inducing, all the more powerful for the spare writing style. It makes for a very uncomfortable reading experience - which is, of course, precisely what it's meant to be. I can't fault Otsuka for flawlessly executing the story she set out to write. I admire it, but I don't like it. ( )
  bell7 | Jan 20, 2019 |
A short, beautifully written novella about one Japanese-American family's experience during World War II and the internment camps. The narrative switches between the two children and their mother, and the final segment is in the father's voice. He has been a mostly absent figure in the story, as he was removed from their home right after Pearl Harbor and treated as an enemy alien. His short "confession" at the end is incredibly powerful.

The lovely, spare prose stands in stark contrast to the disgraceful story it tells. Nicely narrated by Elaina Erika Davis. ( )
  katiekrug | Oct 31, 2018 |
Heartbreaking, but not nearly as intense of a read as I was expecting. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
Another short, beautifully written book. The book is narrated by each of the members of this family sent to Japanese interment camps. Very spare writing, a quick but moving read. The author manages to convey so much with few, carefully curated words. ( )
1 vote Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
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This book is for my parents
and in memory of Toyoko H. Nozaka
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The sign had appeared overnight.
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Book description
On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her house, and matter-of-factly begins to pack her family's possessions. Like thousands of other Japanese Americans they have been reclassified, virtually overnight, as enemy aliens and are about to be uprooted from their homes and sent to a dusty internment camp in the Utah desert. In this lean and devastatingly evocative first novel, Julie Otsuka tells their story from five flawlessly realized points of view and conveys the exact emotional texture of the experience: the thin-walled barracks and barbed-wire fences, the omnipresent fear and loneliness, the unheralded feats of heroism. When the Emperor Was Divine is a work of enormous power that makes a shameful episode of our history as immediate as today's headlines. (0-385-72181-1)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385721811, Paperback)

A precise, understated gem of a first novel, Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine tells one Japanese American family's story of internment in a Utah enemy alien camp during World War II. We never learn the names of the young boy and girl who were forced to leave their Berkeley home in 1942 and spend over three years in a dusty, barren desert camp with their mother. Occasional, heavily censored letters arrive from their father, who had been taken from their house in his slippers by the FBI one night and was being held in New Mexico, his fate uncertain. But even after the war, when they have been reunited and are putting their stripped, vandalized house back together, the family can never regain its pre-war happiness. Broken by circumstance and prejudice, they will continue to pay, in large and small ways, for the shape of their eyes. When the Emperor Was Divine is written in deceptively tranquil prose, a distillation of injustice, anger, and poetry; a notable debut. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Otsuka's commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any previously written--a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times.

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Average: (3.76)
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1.5 1
2 25
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3 120
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