- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (7 Feb. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 024195648X
- ISBN-13: 978-0241956489
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.8 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 67 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 226,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Buddha in the Attic Paperback – 7 Feb 2013
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Sweeping, symphonic, empathic . . . subtle, infinitely skilful . . . an exhilarating, compulsive read. Otsuka's haunting, heartbreaking conclusion, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, is faultless (Daily Mail)
Paints a poignant, moving portrait of immigration by deftly weaving together a chorus of voices. Fascinating and tragic in equal measure (Easy Living)
A tender, nuanced, empathetic exploration of the sorrows and consolations of a whole generation of women (Telegraph)
A haunting and heartbreaking look at the immigrant experience . . . Otsuka's keenly observed prose manages to capture whole histories in a sweep of gorgeous incantatory sentences (Marie Claire)
Novels written in the first person plural are rare. It's a narrative device that gives The Buddha in the Attic a deliciously melancholy quality . . . Powerful, lyrical and almost unbearably sad (Psychologies)
Powerfully moving . . . intensely lyrical . . . verges on the edge of poetry (Independent)
The tone is often incantatory, and though the language is direct, unconvoluted, almost without metaphor, its true and very unusual merit lies, I think, in that indefinable quality we call poetry (Ursula Le Guin Guardian)
A kind of collective memoir that squeezes volumes of experience into a small space . . . more than a history lesson because Otsuka compresses the individual emotions into one haunting story (The Times)
Her trick is to sum up a few life story in a few tantalising sentences, moving on to the next at lightning speed. The result is panoramic, each line opening a window on to the world of one woman after another, pinpointing each one's hopes and happiness or misery and pain (Sunday Express)
Intriguing . . . fleeting, singular images pile up and reverberate against each other to strange, memorable effect (Metro)
About the Author
Julie Otsuka was born and raised in California. She is the author of the novel When the Emperor Was Divine, and a recipient of the Asian American Literary Award, the American Library Association Alex Award, and a Guggenheim fellowship. Her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic, was nominated for the 2011 National Book Award. She lives in New York City.
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The "we" in question are young Japanese girls and women making their way to new meet new husbands in America and Julie Otsuka creates an amazingly evocative atmosphere from the moment that they embark on their journey through to the outbreak of World War II. By using the "we" technique the story is not limited to the trials and tribulations of one of the girls but instead we see a wide spectrum of what their new world holds. For many it is not the promised land they had hoped for and their husbands don't turn out as expected. For a lucky few, life is good.
For a relatively short book, the author has crammed in a great deal and we learn a lot about a group of people who are very much forgotten today (I certainly knew nothing about them before reading this).
It leaves the reader with plenty to think about and a true sense of understanding what these young women went through in their very difficult move to another continent.
However, I found it wonderful! The flow of the story, told by a great many women, is exciting, frightening, fun and humorous all at the same time. The women's stories are all different yet all report almost identically similar experiences and report with widely diverging attitudes.
It was like reading poetry - I was completely involved. I would have liked to have known what happened next, though.
It is an enjoyable read from the perspective of someone interested in experiences of Japanese people and recent modern history. If you want a good story then this isn't really a novel, but it does bring into mind the number of issues and concerns for this group of people...
The book leads up to an event in American History during WW2 about which I knew nothing but now will read further on the subject.
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