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Monday, October 10, 2011

"Buddha in the Attic"

by Julie Otsuka, AF, 2011, 129p, rating=3

In six unforgettable, incantatory 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. (Goodreads)
Actually in eight sections, this short novel described the journey of mail order brides from Japan to America sometime after World War I.  Not told from one voice but of "we" (first person plural).  The telling of the story in such a matter gave a generic-varied view of their experiences.  Basically not at all what the picture brides had expected of their husbands or America.  Their hard pilgrimage was a collective disappointment but they persevered nonetheless and bore children that became Americanized.

In the beginning I was really feeling for these women.  The hardships were awful.  But the "we/us/some/others.." tendered a hint of whiny tone by the middle of the book.  As if indirectly someone was pointing fingers.  That gave me an awkward feeling.  Yet, I liked the book overall.  It was poignant.


  1. Thank you for the Birthday wishes. Donna

  2. What an interesting idea for a book, it's going straight on my wishlist. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. @Donna --you're welcome.. hope after the jump start of the roaches the rest of your day was great!

    @Sam --you're welcome may also want to check out the first book.


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