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The Buddha in the Attic


The Buddha in the Attic Cover

ISBN13: 9780307744425
ISBN10: 0307744426
Condition: Student Owned
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Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and suggestions for further reading that follow are intended to enrich your discuss of Julie Ostuka’s The Buddha in the Attic.

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Diana Deverell, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by Diana Deverell)
Amazing use of the first person plural as narrator. Captivating!
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Carolyn Jolly, February 14, 2013 (view all comments by Carolyn Jolly)
A clever use of 3rd person personal and first person accounts ground the story of picture brides from Japan sent to America to marry Japanese farmworkers. Otsuka covers an extensive breadth of time, territory, and emotion as she tells the story of the collective brides and their individual hardships in a book not much bigger than a novella. The accounts are historically correct and the book can be read as an account of Japanese women in pre-world war II America. Osuka's book can also be read as a unique, creative, attempt to tell the stories from a history we have all but forgotten.
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Scot Nakagawa, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Scot Nakagawa)

Otsuka uses historical accounts to tell a story about a group of Japanese women who immigrated to the U.S. as picture brides. Fooled by marriage brokers into believing they were leaving behind hardship in early 20th century Japan for the good life in America, they arrived to find husbands, years older than the men whose pictures they were carrying, who were expecting wives who would join them in the fields as laborers.

Otsuka follows these women through years of farm labor and then to the internment camps during WWII. This is a story I've heard a hundred times or more. In the stories that have been shared with me, the Japanese Americans of this period are very near to be saints in their self-sacrificing devotion to family, America, and the Buddha. In The Buddha in the Attic, Otsuka presents us with real, whole people, remarkably resilient, accessible, diverse and full of flaws. That she is able to do so without dwelling on the stories of any of the women individually is a bit of a miracle that manages to makes her story a remarkably compelling read. I couldn't put it down and carried with me throughout my day, reading it in snippets whenever I could until finally I was able to sit with it, finish it, and immediately order her first novel, When the Emperor Was Divine.
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Product Details

Otsuka, Julie
Anchor Books
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
8 x 5.1 x 0.43 in 0.32 lb

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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The Buddha in the Attic Used Trade Paper
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Product details 144 pages Anchor Books - English 9780307744425 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction

National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist

A New York Times Notable Book

A gorgeous novel by the celebrated author of When the Emperor Was Divine that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago. In eight unforgettable sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the extraordinary lives of these women, from their arduous journeys by boat, to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; from their experiences raising children who would later reject their culture and language, to the deracinating arrival of war. Once again, Julie Otsuka has written a spellbinding novel about identity and loyalty, and what it means to be an American in uncertain times.

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