Andre's Reviews > The Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
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Apr 15, 12

The perspective of this story is very interesting. It is told in first person plural, the first time I believe I have encountered such a style. For me it mostly works, and I think the author was trying to convey a sense of sameness. In eight short chapters the journey from Japan to America to disappearance is told in tight, poetry-like prose.

Because the book was so short, I thought the use of the first person plural was necessary genius. Although each woman may have had a different and unique experience, their similarities where abundant enough to be grouped in a we perspective. She cleverly uses sentences to make distinctions in the shared involvement of these Japanese "picture" brides. Frequently, she diverts from the simple, "we....." to the more canny, "Some of us..." or even the singular "one of us...." In a book this short, it would have been hard to give depth to a main character. And the focus here is clearly on the collective experience of these Japanese women.

The use of the we narrative forces the reader to deal with the existence of the various trials, as a whole, rather than focus on an individual and come away with a conclusion that is parochial. The reader comes away with a sense of what it must have been like for these women, one should feel the pain, the angst, the mistrust that these women felt, and using a single protagonist would have made this difficult in this brevity of space. I think I'm going to read her other book, because this one was very well done!
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Andre Thanks for your like.

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