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The Buddha in the Atticby Julie Otsuka
"In Julie Otsuka's latest novel, The Buddha in the Attic, the author brazenly writes in hundreds of voices that rise up into one collective cry of sorrow, loneliness and confusion....Otsuka winds a thread of despair throughout the book, haunting the reader at every chapter. For every step forward there are two steps back for these women, who did their best to build a life and a home in a country that was largely unsympathetic to their isolation." Meganne Fabrega, The Star Tribune (Read the entire Star Tribune review)
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the contemporary classic 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 or To Kill a Mockingbird" — the New York Times), a tour de force about a group of women brought from Japan to San Francisco in the early 1900s as mail-order brides.
In six unforgettable, incantatory sections, the novel traces their new lives as "picture brides": the arduous voyage by boat, where the girls trade photos of their husbands and imagine uncertain futures in an unknown land...their arrival in San Francisco and the tremulous first nights with their new husbands...backbreaking toil as migrant workers in the fields and in the homes of white women...the struggle to learn a new language and culture...giving birth and raising children who come to reject their heritage....and, finally, the arrival of war, and the agonizing prospect of their internment.
Once again Julie Otsuka has written a spellbinding novel about identity and loyalty, and what it means to be an American in uncertain times.
"In the early 1900s, numerous Japanese mail order brides came to America seeking better lives. Otsuka's (When the Emperor was Divine) latest novel paints a delicate, heartbreaking portrait of these women. Using a collective first-person narrator ('On the boat we were mostly virgins.'), Otsuka looks at the experiences of these 'picture brides,' organizing their stories into themes which include: their arrival in America; their first nights with their husbands; their interactions with white people; their children; and finally, the experience of World War II. Each section is beautifully rendered, a delicate amalgam of contrasting and complementary experiences. Readers will instantly empathize with these unnamed women as they adjust to American culture, a remarkable achievement considering Otsuka's use of the collective voice. Otsuka's prose is precise and rich with imagery. Readers will be inspired to draw their own parallels between the experiences of these women and the modern experience of immigration. By the time readers realize that the story is headed toward the internment of the Japanese, they are hopelessly engaged and will finish this exceptional book profoundly moved." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Haunting and intimate...Otsuka tracts the grace and strength at the core of immigrant (and female) survival and, with exquisite care, makes us rethink the heartbreak of eternal hope." Susanna Sonnenberg, More
About the Author
Julie Otsuka was born and raised in California. She is a graduate of Yale University and received her M.F.A. from Columbia University. She lives in New York City.
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