The Buddha in the Attic: Book summary and reviews of The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the Attic

A Novel

by Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the Attic
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2011
    160 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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About this book

Book Summary

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 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A lovely prose poem that gives a bitter history lesson." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. Each section is beautifully rendered, a delicate amalgam of contrasting and complementary experiences.... Otsuka's prose is precise and rich with imagery." - Publishers Weekly

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Reader Reviews

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Jamie Zammito

The Buddha in the Attic
Poignant, startling, enigmatic, but not bitter for all these amazing women have been through! Like a poem, prose written in first person stays with you long after you have read it. it was a bitter-sweet read for anyone who has a heart !

Kathryn K

Amazing Book
The Buddha in the Attic, is quite unique and an amazing read! Although, I must immediately add that it cries out to be read out loud! It's the first novel I have read in a long time that is written in poetic form. It tells the of Japanese women who came to America as "picture brides" and tells the challenges they faced.

As a selection for my book club, I was very discouraged as I was unable to read,due some short term vision problems. My husband read It to me! He has the voice and the book took my breath away! The discussion was lively and it made a made our top favorite list. Having my husband come to read a few pages, was a special treat!

Louise J

Stunning Novel
This wonderful, captivating novel reads almost like a documentary and would, in fact, make for great t.v. viewing...An excellent novel!!

Sheryl Royer

Beautifully conceived and written
This book grabbed me within the first few sentences and will not let me go! It is unique in every way, from the first person plural perspective from which it is written, to the subject on which it is based, to the beautifully poetically crafted sentences of which it is comprised. It is the story of Japanese women brought to the US before WW II to be brides to Japanese immigrant men they did not know. It is not one story, but dozens. Yet it is succinct, easy to read, and compelling. It always amazes me when a writer finds yet another unique way to tell a unique story and Julie Otsuka certainly has in this book. I've not read her books before, but I will now eagerly seek them out.

Dorothy T.

A novel approach
This book is called a novel, but seems like a documentary. It has no main character, yet it feels like there is one. There is no plot, but it is a story that moves to a climax and a conclusion, and moves the reader's emotions with it. I know this review may seem enigmatic, but I encourage you to give this little book a try as the author seeks to give a voice to an unsung group of women in California history.

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Author Information

Julie Otsuka Author Biography

Photo: Jerry Bauer

Julie Otsuka was born and raised in California. She is a graduate of Yale University and received her M.F.A. from Columbia. She is the author of the novels When the Emperor was Divine and The Buddha in the Attic and a recipient of the Asian American Literary Award, the American Library Association Alex Award, and a Guggenheim fellowship. She lives in New York City.

Author Interview
Link to Julie Otsuka's Website

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  • When The Emperor was Divine jacket
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