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The Buddha in the Attic

Otsuka, Julie (Book - 2011 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Buddha in the Attic

Item Details

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.
Authors: Otsuka, Julie, 1962-
Title: The Buddha in the attic
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
Characteristics: 129 p. ;,20 cm.
Notes: "This is a Borzoi book"--T.p. verso.
Summary: 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.
ISBN: 9780307700001
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Report This Apr 21, 2014
  • uncommonreader rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

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.

Report This Sep 12, 2013
  • lorna2511 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

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.

Report This Jul 05, 2013
  • pattyloucor67 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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!

Report This May 06, 2013
  • mclarjh rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

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.

Report This Feb 12, 2013
  • pokano rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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

Report This Sep 17, 2012
  • cjenning rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Have to start off by saying that I loved this book. Budda in the Attic is the story of Japanese Brides that come to California with no real idea of what life will be like. The format is a little different as it is written from the perspective of the brides and covers their lives through the milestones of thier first nights of marraige, childbirth etc but what I loved most was how the author seemed to make the various voices flow with a grace that can only be called poetry

Report This Aug 25, 2012
  • kkemezis rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book will rock you. It will having you gasping,crying, reflecting, laughing, and more with the subtlest of movements in the writing. If you are familiar with the history of Japanese-Americans in your community, you will be taken aback when you recognize a name or story. It is a book just as much about American society, then and now, as it is giving voice to Japanese American women. The structure is fascinating and an essential part of the success of this book. Part of the power of it is that unabashedly forces you to take part and confront your place in the making up of the history of Japanese-American women or any marginalized immigrant community.

Report This Aug 08, 2012
  • haha rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book. Otsuka has great voice, one of the reasons that Buddha in the Attic felt so personal and was so touching. The stories of the Japanese women that she details is one that all people should understand.

Report This Jul 30, 2012
  • joyceallen06 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

The story of sad deception and the process of the collective to make their way in this world despite amazing disappointment and the need to make it work out.

While I appreciate Otsuka's research and empathy with her characters, I found the book depressing. The women, and the Japanese American community as a whole seem like victims. Of course, they were victims of racism and U.S. nationalism and the greed of white farmers who coveted their land, and it is true that many Issei (first generation) men oppressed their wives, but great oppression also creates great characters - people who develop a serious political understanding of their situation and then act. Many Japanese Americans moved to the left as a result of their experiences here, but intelligent, activist dialogue and action is missing from this book. Otsuka also ignores the significant positive social relations - and marriages - between Japanese and African and Latino Americans. And, even though the Japanese were racist, I don't like books which make comments, for example, about Mexican workers not being sober and leave it at that, even if the depiction is supposed to be through the eyes of a character. This perpetuates a racist stereotype. Finally, at the end of the book the writer passes the "voice" of the novel on to white characters. The Japanese are just passive ghosts, shipped off to the camps. This reminds me of books which depict Native people as ghosts of a bygone day, roaming the plains with the ghosts of the buffalo. All immigrant groups are powerful and resilient, and Native peoples around the world are the moral and political leadership of the movement to save Mother Earth, not just victims.

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Report This Jul 05, 2013
  • pattyloucor67 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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


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