Betsy McTiernan's Reviews > The Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
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Sep 10, 12

This is a short novel that tells the story of the picture brides of Japan in a chorus of their voices. Otsuka chooses to use the 1st and 3rd person plural ("we" and "some of us") to give a composite view of the experiences of these women who come to the USA to marry Japanese immigrants who turn out not to be the men they presented themselves to be. As might be expected some of the marriages work and others fail. Some couple become successful and others remain in menial jobs. And all of endure various forms and degrees of racism. The book begins in the early 20th century and concludes when the the protagonists are "removed" to the camps during WWII. Though I finished the book feeling that I knew a lot about the lives of the woman and a shameful piece of American history, I missed the emotional connection I usually develop with individual characters. If Otsuka's writing wasn't so lyrical, I would have felt, at times, that I was reading sociology. Still, I admire her for finding an economical way to give her story the breadth and depth that it deserves.

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