JULIE OTSUKA THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC PDF

They took us calmly. They took us gently, but firmly, and without saying a word. They assumed we were the virgins the matchmakers had 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.

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Share via Email Japanese women at a flower show in America, With The Buddha in the Attic , Julie Otsuka has developed a literary style that is half poetry, half narration — short phrases, sparse description, so that the current of emotion running through each chapter is made more resonant by her restraint. She takes as her subject the Japanese women brought over in their hundreds to San Francisco as mail-order brides in the interwar period.

Instead of a single, named protagonist, Otsuka writes in the first personal plural through a series of thematic chapters. The opening chapter sets the scene on the boat as the women make their crossing to America, clutching photos of the handsome young men they believe to be their new husbands.

When they arrive, they are disillusioned by "the crowd of men in knit caps and shabby black coats waiting for us down below on the dock… the photographs we had been sent were 20 years old. In a devastating chapter entitled "First Night", Otsuka recounts the physical consummation of these new relationships. Otsuka makes no distinction between them, relying on the rhythm of her words to pull the reader along. Occasionally a single voice will break through and the effect is startlingly good.

They took us with our white silk kimonos twisted up high over our heads and we were sure we were about to die. I thought I was being smothered. Do you serve Japanese? And then, after Pearl Harbor, the order comes for the Japanese to be interned. Entire communities are uprooted, forced to give up their houses and livelihoods. It is here that Otsuka finally gives her women their names: "Iyo left with an alarm clock ringing from somewhere deep inside her suitcase but did not stop to turn it off.

Kimiko left her purse behind on the kitchen table but would not remember until it was too late. Haruko left a tiny laughing brass Buddha up high, in a corner of the attic, where he is still laughing to this day. Their houses are boarded up and empty now.

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Julie Otsuka

Share via Email Japanese women at a flower show in America, With The Buddha in the Attic , Julie Otsuka has developed a literary style that is half poetry, half narration — short phrases, sparse description, so that the current of emotion running through each chapter is made more resonant by her restraint. She takes as her subject the Japanese women brought over in their hundreds to San Francisco as mail-order brides in the interwar period. Instead of a single, named protagonist, Otsuka writes in the first personal plural through a series of thematic chapters. The opening chapter sets the scene on the boat as the women make their crossing to America, clutching photos of the handsome young men they believe to be their new husbands. When they arrive, they are disillusioned by "the crowd of men in knit caps and shabby black coats waiting for us down below on the dock… the photographs we had been sent were 20 years old. In a devastating chapter entitled "First Night", Otsuka recounts the physical consummation of these new relationships.

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The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka – review

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