The Buddha in the Attic

By Julie Otsuka
(Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780307700001, 129pp.)

Publication Date: August 23, 2011

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Description
Finalist for the 2011 National Book Award

Julie Otsuka's long awaited follow-up to "When the Emperor Was Divine "("To watch "Emperor" catching on with teachers and students in vast numbers is to grasp what must have happened at the outset for novels like "Lord of the Flies" and "To Kill a Mockingbird"" --"The New York Times") is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as 'picture brides' nearly a century ago.
In eight incantatory sections, "The Buddha in the Attic" traces their extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.
In language that has the force and the fury of poetry, Julie Otsuka has written a singularly spellbinding novel about the American dream.




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.


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CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. The Buddha in the Attic is narrated in the first person plural, i.e., told from the point of view of a group of women rather than an individual. Discuss the impact of this narrative decision on your reading experience.  Why do you think the author made the choice to tell the story from this perspective? 

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