The Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic

Book - 2011
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Presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early twentieth-century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307700001
0307700003
Branch Call Number: FICTION Otsuka Julie
Characteristics: 129 p. ;,20 cm.

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JCLSamS May 02, 2017

While the subject matter was thoroughly interesting and important, I found the use of the first person plural tense and lack of focus on any one person or character to be too distancing. It somehow made the stories feel less real or relatable, which is likely the opposite of the author's intent.

Presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early twentieth-century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment.

Meeting date: July 23, 2013


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SnoIsleLib_DarrenN May 04, 2017

Otsuka has written a hauntingly poetic, concisely crafted, and stylistically pioneering work that memorializes the collective voice and experience of Japanese brides arranged to marry unmet and unknown immigrants earlier in American history. With persistent and deeply felt *first* person plural narrative ("we were..we had..") The Buddha in the Attic claims every individual woman's experience as part of the fabric of every other's.

JCLSamS May 02, 2017

While the subject matter was thoroughly interesting and important, I found the use of the first person plural tense and lack of focus on any one person or character to be too distancing. It somehow made the stories feel less real or relatable, which is likely the opposite of the author's intent.

j
Jennie_d05
Feb 25, 2017

My book club enjoyed this title. Themes of immigration, assimilation, and a woman's place in the world are explored by Japanese brides of American men.

t
TheresaAJ
Jan 19, 2016

In spare, almost lyrical prose, Otsuka shares the history of Japanese "picture brides" from the early 20th century through the early years of World War II. Written in 8 sections in the third person, the author shares the immigrant experience from arrival to assimilation to internment after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This short novel will haunt you long after you finish reading it. The book should provide a good discussion at the January meeting of the Willa Cather Book Club.

w
Wong_Anne
Jun 16, 2015

Although only 129 pages long, this novel packs a punch. It is the story of mail order brides from Japan who travel to San Francisco. Each of the 8 chapters deals with a different adjustment and historical period: Come Japanese!, First Night, Whites, Babies, The Children, Traitors, Last Day, Disappearance. Each paragraph deals with the women as a collective, but describes their individual experience in a sentence. “They gave us new names. They called us Helen. They called us Margaret, They called us Pearl (pg 40)”.
It is an immigrant story, but also the story of first generation Americans, and of the resettlement camps of WWII. It offers speculation, rumour, innuendo, and myth as a way of dealing with the unknown. A quick read but not a light-weight one.

u
uncommonreader
Apr 21, 2014

This short novel is about the "picture brides" who came to California from Japan in the early 1900s and their lives and their families' lives up to the internment of the Japanese during WW II. Like other readers, I did not find that the use of the collective first person to encompass the experiences of many really worked. Also, for a book which does not attempt to universalize but is specifically about Japanese people, it is not clear how their experiences were different from other migrant workers.

lorna2511 Sep 12, 2013

A quick read on an interesting topic but too simplistic - the multiple use of the first person for many voices was a little annoying. I understand the author's goal or wanting to achieve a wide perspective but I found it lacked the ability to engage me enthusiastically. Would love to read more on this topic, though.

p
pattyloucor67
Jul 05, 2013

This extraordinary little book tells the story of Japanese mail order brides who come to San Francisco prior to WWII. Told in the "we" tense, we experience their treacherous journey, their disappointment with husbands and new homeland, their ostracizing by whites, and finally their internment in camps in the country's interior. I love the language of this book and the poetic way Otsuka tells the story of these women. A must-read for those who love beautiful writing!

m
mclarjh
May 06, 2013

Cute little book. Great idea, passable execution. Most of the story is told from the perspective of "we" or "us," the brides, but later switches to a specific "I" and sometimes a non-specific all-knowing narrator. Later passages, about the war, talk about children (or grand-children), not so much the brides. Pleasant read.

p
pokano
Feb 12, 2013

Hearbreaking story of picture brides--Japanese women who came to this country to marry men whom they knew only by a photo.

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bsmithis
Dec 24, 2014

And even though we had no idea what he was saying we knew exactly what he meant.

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pattyloucor67
Jul 05, 2013

This is America, we would say to ourselves, there is no need to worry. And we would be wrong.

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Arjava
Nov 28, 2014

Arjava thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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Arjava
Nov 24, 2014

Beautifully written, poetic prose, flowing and lovely. Of the japan experience related to immigration memories and challenges and political consequences of being a visible minority and Asian. North American sterotypes of other and visa versa from the Asian side, views of Americans. The author is japanese american.

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