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When the Emperor Was Divine

by

When the Emperor Was Divine Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Julie Otsuka's commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination — both physical and emotional — of a generation of Japanese Americans. In five chapters, each flawlessly executed from a different point of view — the mother receiving the order to evacuate; the daughter on the long train ride to the camp; the son in the desert encampment; the family's return to their home; and the bitter release of the father after more than four years in captivity — she has created a small tour de force, a novel of unrelenting economy and suppressed emotion. Spare, intimate, arrestingly understated, When the Emperor Was Divine is a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times. It heralds the arrival of a singularly gifted new novelist.

Review:

"Shockingly brilliant....[I]t will make you gasp....Undoubtedly one of the most effective, memorable books to deal with the internment crisis....The maturity of Otsuka's...prose is astonishing." The Bloomsbury Review

Review:

"The novel's voice is as hushed as a whisper....An exquisite debut...potent, spare, crystalline." O, The Oprah Magazine

Review:

"[T]he narrative remains stubbornly at the surface...never finding a way to go deeper, to a place where the attention will be held rigid and the heart seized. Earnestly done, and correctly, but information trumps drama, and the heart is left out." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Heartbreaking, bracingly unsentimental....[R]ais[es] the specter of wartime injustice in bone-chilling fashion....The novel's honesty and matter-of-fact tone in the face of inconceivable injustice are the source of its power....Dazzling." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"At once delicately poetic and unstintingly unsentimental." St. Petersburg Times

Review:

"Prose so cool and precise that it's impossible not to believe what [Otsuka] tells us or to see clearly what she wants us to see....A gem of a book and one of the most vivid history lessons you'll ever learn." USA Today

Review:

"Otsuka...demonstrates a breathtaking restraint and delicacy throughout this supple and devastating first novel." Donna Seaman, Booklist

Review:

"The novel's themes of freedom and banishment are especially important as we see civil liberties threatened during the current war on terrorism. Otsuka's clear, elegant prose makes these themes accessible....Highly recommended." Library Journal

Synopsis:

The debut novel from the PEN/Faulkner Award Winning Author of The Buddha in the Attic

On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, 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 home 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 their 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.

Synopsis:

Julie Otsukas commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination—both physical and emotional—of a generation of Japanese Americans. In five chapters, each flawlessly executed from a different point of view—the mother receiving the order to evacuate; the daughter on the long train ride to the camp; the son in the desert encampment; the familys return to their home; and the bitter release of the father after more than four years in captivity—she has created a small tour de force, a novel of unrelenting economy and suppressed emotion. Spare, intimate, arrestingly understated, When the Emperor Was Divine is a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times. It heralds the arrival of a singularly gifted new novelist.

From the Hardcover edition.

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. She lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

bshinn, January 5, 2012 (view all comments by bshinn)
This short book brings immediacy to the internment of Japanese during World War II. It centers on one family and the impact this internment had on their lives over the years. It is a very powerful portrayal of how national policy impacts individuals. I highly recommend this short book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
wabijsabi, September 19, 2011 (view all comments by wabijsabi)
Understated but powerful, this novel leaves you wanting to read more by Julie Otsuka. "When the Emperor Was Divine" is a great evocation of a place and a time.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
hans1247, December 30, 2009 (view all comments by hans1247)
This is a short, beautiful and moving read. It is an amazing first novel too! I had to read it for a class on multiculturalism in the United States and I am so grateful for that as I may not have discovered the book on my own. This tale of a Japanese-American family succumbing to the internment camps and the after life is a must read.
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(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385721813
Author:
Otsuka, Julie
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Author:
Various
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
California
Subject:
World war, 1939-1945
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Japanese Americans
Subject:
Concentration camps
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Japanese American families
Subject:
Concentration camp inmates
Subject:
World War, 19
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Historical
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
108-222
Publication Date:
October 14, 2003
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
160
Dimensions:
12 x 9 x 5 in 9.8031 lb

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Related Subjects


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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

When the Emperor Was Divine Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 160 pages Anchor - English 9780385721813 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Shockingly brilliant....[I]t will make you gasp....Undoubtedly one of the most effective, memorable books to deal with the internment crisis....The maturity of Otsuka's...prose is astonishing."
"Review" by , "The novel's voice is as hushed as a whisper....An exquisite debut...potent, spare, crystalline."
"Review" by , "[T]he narrative remains stubbornly at the surface...never finding a way to go deeper, to a place where the attention will be held rigid and the heart seized. Earnestly done, and correctly, but information trumps drama, and the heart is left out."
"Review" by , "Heartbreaking, bracingly unsentimental....[R]ais[es] the specter of wartime injustice in bone-chilling fashion....The novel's honesty and matter-of-fact tone in the face of inconceivable injustice are the source of its power....Dazzling."
"Review" by , "At once delicately poetic and unstintingly unsentimental."
"Review" by , "Prose so cool and precise that it's impossible not to believe what [Otsuka] tells us or to see clearly what she wants us to see....A gem of a book and one of the most vivid history lessons you'll ever learn."
"Review" by , "Otsuka...demonstrates a breathtaking restraint and delicacy throughout this supple and devastating first novel."
"Review" by , "The novel's themes of freedom and banishment are especially important as we see civil liberties threatened during the current war on terrorism. Otsuka's clear, elegant prose makes these themes accessible....Highly recommended."
"Synopsis" by , The debut novel from the PEN/Faulkner Award Winning Author of The Buddha in the Attic

On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, 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 home 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 their 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.

"Synopsis" by , Julie Otsukas commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination—both physical and emotional—of a generation of Japanese Americans. In five chapters, each flawlessly executed from a different point of view—the mother receiving the order to evacuate; the daughter on the long train ride to the camp; the son in the desert encampment; the familys return to their home; and the bitter release of the father after more than four years in captivity—she has created a small tour de force, a novel of unrelenting economy and suppressed emotion. Spare, intimate, arrestingly understated, When the Emperor Was Divine is a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times. It heralds the arrival of a singularly gifted new novelist.

From the Hardcover edition.

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