Audible The Buddha in the AtticAuthor Julie Otsuka – 91videos.co

Julie Otsuka S Long Awaited Follow Up To When The Emperor Was Divine Is A Tour De Force Of Economy And Precision, A Novel That Tells The Story Of A Group Of Young Women Brought From Japan To San Francisco As Picture Brides Nearly A Century AgoIn Eight Incantatory Sections, The Buddha In The Attic Traces The Picture Brides 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


10 thoughts on “The Buddha in the Attic

  1. says:

    Some of us will like the book Some of us won t Some of us will find the constant plural first person narrative terribly annoying, wondering if any group of people can be so cohesive and one that they can always speak in unison, no matter the topic Some of us can t wait to discuss it with our friends on Saturday Some of us will cancel their RSVP to this week s book club because the last thing they want to do is give this book any of their time Some of us won t like it because the lack of an actual plot or timeline Some of us won t like it because of the total lack of any charachter development, since there are no actual characters in the book Some of us don t like the title, some of us find the title intriguing, and for that, I am grateful to the author Some of us find this topic interesting, and wish the book could have shown me about this hideous time period in our nation s history Some of us have abandoned this book, some of us are glad it is over and are moving on to the next book on the shelf, and some of us will give Julie Otsuka another chance and read her best seller, When the Emporer was Divine.


  2. says:

    I read The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka as part of my women s history month lineup A well researched, historical fictional account, Otsuka depicts life for Japanese American immigrants to California over a span of thirty years in the early 20th century Featuring mail order brides who came to San Francisco to meet their husbands for the first time, Otsuka gives a voice to a people whose story would otherwise be lost The women came from all over Japan to sail on a steamship to meet their husbands While huddled and seasick in the ship s hold, these women formed instant friendships that they hoped would last once they reached America Hoping that life in America would yield a better future than that as a rice farmer, the women as young as twelve willingly left behind their families for husbands they only saw in photographs.Life in America, according to Otsuka, was not the American dream depicted in letters The issei first generation Japanese immigrants worked backbreaking jobs as migrant farmers If they didn t farm, they became maids or washerwoman The women who were rejected by either these jobs or their new husbands, turned to prostitution The Japanese were lumped with African Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, and other immigrants as people of color and were forced to do jobs that caucasians would not do As this was during the Jim Crow era, they also got paid meager earnings for working backbreaking jobs Yet, these women, and their husbands, endured in hopes that their children would have a better life than the one they toiled at Although slim in length, Otsuka places this story in a larger historical context by focusing on placing the Japanese in internment camps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor The issei and their nissei second generation American children were viewed as the enemies of the people Placed on lists and rounded up in the middle of the night, they were taken away for the duration of the war They packed slim suitcases and left behind valuables, even heirlooms such as the Buddha left behind in an attic The government did not differentiate between the Japanese overseas and American citizens about to enter Stanford as their high school valedictorian Despite being briefly mentioned, I was most moved by this section.Julie Otsuka has earned an Asian American Literature Prize for her writing Buddha in the Attic is a small volume but touches on a key 20th century historical event I wished that Otsuka would have gone in depth in telling the stories of women who trekked across an ocean to meet husbands who they might not be compatible with Using telling language, Otsuka creates a poignant prose I would be interested in reading her other novel, and I rate the novella Buddha in the Attic a solid 3.75 stars.


  3. says:

    After the first chapter of this book, I thought I had hit upon a goldmine of a book and wondered how anyone dared to rate it less than 4 stars Otsuka draws the reader in by offering up a kaleidoscope of experiences by a flock of Japanese women clustered in the ship s steerage bound for California as mail order brides Lest you think this is a silly book It is not Here is what I liked Otsuka clearly has researched, read her history of Japanese emigration, interviewed obsessively to come up with detail, words put in the women s mouths, etc By writing the book as she did with Some of us , We , etc the reader can t help identify with this large group of women therefore, offering the reader some scope of how much and how many of these women suffered Otsuka does a wonderful job of spanning the extremes of the women s experience on the boat, in California as new brides to men they didn t know, working for White folks, having children and ultimately imprisoned in camps during World War II The reader can t help gleaning the fact that each experienced these events differently.Now the flip side Otsuka clearly has researched, read her history of Japanese emigration, interviewed obsessively to come up with detail, words put in the women s mouths, etc.Sometimes, the book sounds like research rather than a novel It felt at times, like the author didn t want to let go of a single detail While informative, it became monotonous By writing the book as she did with Some of us , We , etc the reader can t help identify with this large group of women therefore, offering the reader some scope of how much and how many of these women suffered.The method described above was great for the first chapter but then started sounding like a list being read I began to yearn to know what happened in just 3 4 of the ladies lives, not a short sentence or two for each one particularly when there were so many people to tell about Which brings up another issue, I never connected with any of these ladies since they were all intended to be representative of many ladies in similar situations Otsuka does a wonderful job of spanning the extremes of the women s experience on the boat, in California as new brides to men they didn t know, working for White folks, having children and ultimately imprisoned in interment camps during World War II The reader can t help gleaning the fact that each experienced these events differently.This brings me to my conclusion I think if Otsuka would have stuck to her original chapter narrated as it is, it would have been doubly powerful because the style loses steam as it goes i think this is why it is such a short book, but it is still too long to maintain the method used If the remaining chapters could have been devoted to 3 4 ladies stories and then concluded with a short chapter in the same style as the first chapter from the outsiders view, it would have been 5 star material IMHO.2.5 stars


  4. says:

    This novella has the most lyrical prose I ve read in a long, long time It begins on a boat in the early 1900s, with dozens of young Japanese women who were being shipped to husbands in San Francisco to begin new lives The women didn t know it yet, but they had been sold a bill of goods They had been promised that their husbands were successful, handsome and rich, and that they would love living in America, but the truth is they would become migrant workers in California, and that the women might have been better off staying home in Japan with their families The book gives a breathless, kaleidoscopic account of the women s hopes and fears and the hard working lives for which they settled.I will share the opening paragraph because I think it is gorgeous On the boat we were mostly virgins We had long black hair and flat wide feet and we were not very tall Some of us had eaten nothing but rice gruel as young girls and had slightly bowed legs, and some of us were only fourteen years old and were still young girls ourselves Some of us came from the city, and wore stylish city clothes, but many of us came from the country and on the boat we wore the same old kimonos we d been wearing for years faded hand me downs from our sisters that had been patched and redyed many times Some of us came from the mountains, and had never before seen the sea, except for in pictures, and some of us were the daughters of fishermen who had been around the sea all our lives Perhaps we had lost a brother or father to the sea, or a fiance, or perhaps someone we loved had jumped into the water one unhappy morning and simply swum away, and now it was time for us, too, to move on Another section I loved is from the first chapter about where the women came from Some of us on the boat were from Kyoto, and were delicate and fair, and had lived our entire lives in darkened rooms at the back of the house Some of us were from Nara, and prayed to our ancestors three times a day, and swore we could still hear the temple bells ringing Some of us were from Hiroshima, which would later explode, and were lucky to be on the boat at all though of course we did not then know it After the sea voyage, the stories progress to how the husbands treated their wives, and the children that followed and the hard work they endured And, U.S history being what it is, we eventually arrive at the bombing of Pearl Harbor but I don t think that name was ever mentioned , and the last 50 pages of the book show their shock at suddenly being labeled traitors and the fear mongering that persisted, and by the end, the Japanese have disappeared from the town I thought it was a nice touch that in her acknowledgments, Otsuka admits having reappropriated some lines of dialogue from Donald Rumsfeld in 2001 and inserted them as the mayor in 1941 Same principles, different war.I hope I haven t made the book sound gloomy I actually found it inspiring and full of beauty and hope Would I have had the courage to sail off to a foreign land and a strange husband at such a young age I doubt it Update December 2013I reread this for book club and was still amazed at how beautiful the writing is Each sentence is its own little story, and it s so rich and visual that I was utterly absorbed in the prose I highly recommend this, and I m excited to look up other books by Otsuka.First read March 2012Second read December 2013


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  6. says:

    In this slim, delicate, lyrical novel Julie Otsuka unflinchingly and confidently does something that really is not supposed to work for Western readers, those bred in the culture of stark individualism and raised in a society where it s traditional to expect a bright spark of individuality shining through the grey masses After all, it s the plight of one, the quest of one, the triumph of one that appeals to us naturally, as individual and personal portrayals appeal to our innate sense of self, make us connect in a way most of us do not when faced with a collective reflected quite well in every story, every film, every charity poster that brings out the individual behind the masses, appeals to the personal spark inside of us.But, to quote Terry Pratchett of course I would , Personal s not the same as important People just think it is In The Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka breaks the convention of bringing a personal, individual story to the forefront Instead, she chooses to focus on the collective set of experiences, the collective story of a mass, the voices of many On the boat we were mostly virgins We had long black hair and flat wide feet and we were not very tall Some of us had nothing but rice gruel as young girls and had slightly bowed legs, and some of us were only fourteen years old and were still young girls ourselves Come, Japanese That night our new husbands took us quickly They took us calmly They took us gently but firmly, and without saying a word They assumed we were the virgins the matchmakers have promised them we were and they took us with exquisite care Now let me know if it hurts They took us flat on our backs on the bare floor of the Minute Motel They took us downtown, in second rate rooms at the Kumamoto Inn They took us in the best hotels in San Francisco that a yellow man could set foot in at the time First Night There is no traditional story, no traditional plot, no individual well defined and developed characters Instead, there are only we , the intertwined voices of many Japanese picture brides spanning the time between coming to America the land of promise in the 1920s until the relocation to the internment camps in the 1940s Because if our husbands had told us the truth in their letters they were not silk traders, they were fruit pickers, they did not live in large, many roomed houses, they lived in tents and in barns and out of doors, in the fields, beneath the sun and the stars we never would have come to America to do the work that no self respecting American would do Whenever we left J town and wandered through the broad, clean streets of their cities we tried not to draw attention to ourselves We dressed like they did We walked like they did We made sure not to travel in large groups We made ourselves small for them If you stay in your place they ll leave you alone and did our best not to offend Still, they gave us a hard time Whites No individual figures or stories ever appear instead, there are bits and pieces of everyone s fates weaving together in the tapestry of a common shared experience, encompassing many strands of unique potentialities that can create a true picture only when woven together, the way single pencil strokes come together to create a breathtaking sketch Devoured in its entirety in a single sitting, it reads almost like a poem in prose, crisp and clear, deceptive in its simplicity, full of imagery that will stay to haunt you for a while Etsuko was given the name Esther by her teacher, Mr Slater, on her first day of school It s his mother s name, she explained To which we replied, So is yours The Children This book is not for you if you need a defined character to identify with when reading a story It is not for you if you looking for a clear traditional plot It is not for you if you need closure for the stories you read But if you are looking for the understated, almost poetics in its lyricism narrative that does its best to unite the strands of individual experiences, most of the time only frustratingly hinted at, into a canvas meant to represent the experiences of a greater whole, then you may have found a perfect little volume for you in this sparse but touching little novel A startled cat dove under a bed in one of our houses as looters began to break down the front door Curtains ripped Glass shattered Wedding dishes smashed to the floor And we knew it would only be a matter of time until all traces of us were gone Traitors And after a while we notice ourselves speaking of them and in the past tense Some days we forget they were ever with us, although late at night they often surface, unexpectedly, in our dreams And in the morning, when we wake, try as might to hang on to them, they do not linger long in our dreams All we know is that the Japanese are out there somewhere, in one place or another, and we shall probably not meet them again in this world A Disappearance


  7. says:

    My father served in World War 2, Korea and Viet Nam He never really talked too much about any of these wars When we talked about World War 2 the only thing he said was that the American Government s treatment of Japanese Americans was one of the most shameful things we had ever done as a nation, at least in his life time He was sickened every time he thought of it While he was alive, one of his good friends was another retired Colonel named Yamamoto who served with him in World War 2 and beyond, which probably accounts for how deeply he felt about this topic I thought of Col Yamamoto and his his son, my friend, David, when I read this book, as I did when I read When The Emperor Was Divine which I have heard is now required reading in high school in some places, as it should be This book is even moving and important The Buddha in the Attic cuts even deeper, going beyond the politics of the time, or the politics of fear, and gets to the very core of who we are as people, not just as a country What we value and what we fear Whether we are Japanese or of any other ethnicity, the dark and very personal stories in this book speak to all of us and they probably always will.


  8. says:

    It truly boggles the mind all of the attention this book has gotten The premise is very simple told in the first person plural, the stories of the women who were brought over from Japan before WW2, generally to miserable lives they had not anticipated, is related There is no story in this book, however, as it is everyone s story So we get every variation of where they had come from, every variation of sex for the first time with their husbands, childbirth, work, raising children, interacting with Americans, etc it is a sad life and a hard one for almost everyone involved, with only moments of joy and happiness smothered by work and misery and mistreatment.The book is certainly beautifully written There is a lyricism that is touching, some phrasing of ideas that is striking, some chuckle worthy ignorance about white people that mirrors the ignorance of white people about Japanese and so on There is also a very striking shift at the end that gives the arc some meaning But truly, there is no actual story here There are no characters, there is no personality other than the author s, as seen in her lyricism this is no novel It is a passage excerpted from a history book titled the struggles of Japanese women in the new world and puffed up with fancy prose This is not a criticism of what it does, because it seems to me that this is exactly what it intends to be, given the acknowledgement page.So if you want this prettified history, this book is perfect If you wanted a novel that attempts to do than catalog with a poetic touch, you re out of luck completely.


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  10. says:

    This short 100 page read felt to me like riding in a human river and feeling magically a part of it Otsuka enjoins the reader to flow with the voices of Japanese women from their sea passage to San Francisco as mail order brides in the 20s to the time of internment in camps during World War 2 Though the women voice many different responses to the challenges they faced, they go through similar stages in the transformation of their hopes and dreams to the new realities of their life in America Otsuka s placing of voices side by side while speaking in a communal we evokes a tribal plurality, sometimes conjoining, sometimes contrasting, with the wonderful feel of conjuring the women into life by incantation With no characters or plot, the book might be classified a prose poem I can almost see it used in poetry slam readings Or in a stage production But as the piece already the structures of harmonious and dissonant themes set into movements, it would take a genius to get the music for a theater version just right.Just when the format of we this and we that starts to feel constraining, a new chapter alights that opens the door to another fascinating realm And when you are prepared to follow the voices into the internment camps, the book leads you instead into the perspective of people in the towns left wondering where the Japanese have gone to I will likely follow Otsuka into a story of the camp experience with her When the Emperor was Divine The best way to convey to potential readers whether they would like this book is to share her seven chapter titles with the two brief and artfully engaging lines she begins each with Come, Japanese On the boat we were mostly virgins We had long black hair and flat wide feet and we were not very tall First NightThat night our husbands took us quickly They took us calmly WhitesWe settled on the edges of their towns, when they would let us And when they would not Do not let sundown find you in this county, their signs sometimes said we traveled on BabiesWe gave birth under oak trees, in summer, in 113 degree heat We gave birth beside woodstoves in one room shacks on the coldest nights of the year TraitorsThe rumors began to reach us on the second day of the war There was talk of a list Some people being taken away in the middle of the night Last DaySome of us left weeping And some of us left singing A few of us left drunk A DisappearanceThe Japanese have disappeared from our town Their houses are boarded up and empty now Many of these girls and women eventually adapted to their hard transition some met with madness or death in childbirth or in other ways They struggled with work in cities and fields Most kept to themselves in separate communities, such as the many Japantowns in cities But when their children went to American schools, the loss of traditional ways in the melting pot was almost inevitable Having to bow to the internment was especially tragic for a people trying so hard to be American The book was a moving and wonderful window for me image error