The Buddha In The Attic by Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the Attic is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of Japanese picture brides who immigrated to America in the early 1900s.

The book is divided into eight sections, each tracing the lives of these women from their arduous voyage by boat to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first experiences in an unknown land. The novel explores themes of marriage, discrimination, racism, motherhood, war, and the abuse of immigrants.

Each woman’s experience varies, and each woman struggles. They endure their suffering in stride, in silence, in submission. The pursuit of the American dream is a major theme in this novel, as many of the women hoped for peace and prosperity in the United States.

However, after a life of work, they lost all of the things for which they’d worked when they were forced to move to internment camps shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The title of the book is drawn from a haunting visual image, an object left behind by one of the departing Japanese: “Haruko left a tiny laughing brass Buddha up high, in a corner of the attic, where he is still laughing to this day.”

What I Liked

I liked the poetic, thoughtful, melancholic and incisive tone of this book. It covers an American experience that has been too overlooked for much too long. Incredible novel.

What I Did Not Like

It’s very sad and heavy, so you need to be in a certain mood to enjoy it.

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