The Buddha in the Attic

Otsuka, Julie, 1962-

Book - 2011
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Buddha in the Attic
Presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early twentieth-century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307700001
Branch Call Number: FIC O
Characteristics: 129 p. ; 20 cm.


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Tells the stories of Japanese mail-order brides who came to California at the start of the twentieth century in hopes of marrying handsome young men.

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Sep 27, 2014
  • Bree rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This book seemed more like a fictionalized documentary than a novel, relating events without character development or plot. I didn't care for the style. Although some pieces were quite poignant, I only finished the book because it was short.

Jul 09, 2014
  • whereami rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Very touching, honestly. Even though the format of the book was quite abnormal, but by having it in a thid person form and by presenting it through so many different standpoints, it made me truly feel as if I was witnessing the Japanese women.

Apr 21, 2014
  • uncommonreader rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This short novel is about the "picture brides" who came to California from Japan in the early 1900s and their lives and their families' lives up to the internment of the Japanese during WW II. Like other readers, I did not find that the use of the collective first person to encompass the experiences of many really worked. Also, for a book which does not attempt to universalize but is specifically about Japanese people, it is not clear how their experiences were different from other migrant workers.

Sep 12, 2013
  • lorna2511 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A quick read on an interesting topic but too simplistic - the multiple use of the first person for many voices was a little annoying. I understand the author's goal or wanting to achieve a wide perspective but I found it lacked the ability to engage me enthusiastically. Would love to read more on this topic, though.

Jul 05, 2013
  • pattyloucor67 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This extraordinary little book tells the story of Japanese mail order brides who come to San Francisco prior to WWII. Told in the "we" tense, we experience their treacherous journey, their disappointment with husbands and new homeland, their ostracizing by whites, and finally their internment in camps in the country's interior. I love the language of this book and the poetic way Otsuka tells the story of these women. A must-read for those who love beautiful writing!

May 06, 2013
  • mclarjh rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Cute little book. Great idea, passable execution. Most of the story is told from the perspective of "we" or "us," the brides, but later switches to a specific "I" and sometimes a non-specific all-knowing narrator. Later passages, about the war, talk about children (or grand-children), not so much the brides. Pleasant read.

Feb 12, 2013
  • pokano rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Hearbreaking story of picture brides--Japanese women who came to this country to marry men whom they knew only by a photo.

Sep 17, 2012
  • cjenning rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Have to start off by saying that I loved this book. Budda in the Attic is the story of Japanese Brides that come to California with no real idea of what life will be like. The format is a little different as it is written from the perspective of the brides and covers their lives through the milestones of thier first nights of marraige, childbirth etc but what I loved most was how the author seemed to make the various voices flow with a grace that can only be called poetry

Aug 25, 2012
  • kkemezis rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book will rock you. It will having you gasping,crying, reflecting, laughing, and more with the subtlest of movements in the writing. If you are familiar with the history of Japanese-Americans in your community, you will be taken aback when you recognize a name or story. It is a book just as much about American society, then and now, as it is giving voice to Japanese American women. The structure is fascinating and an essential part of the success of this book. Part of the power of it is that unabashedly forces you to take part and confront your place in the making up of the history of Japanese-American women or any marginalized immigrant community.

Aug 08, 2012
  • haha rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book. Otsuka has great voice, one of the reasons that Buddha in the Attic felt so personal and was so touching. The stories of the Japanese women that she details is one that all people should understand.

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Nov 28, 2014
  • Arjava rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Arjava thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Nov 28, 2014
  • Arjava rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Beautifully written, poetic prose, flowing and lovely. Of the japan experience related to immigration memories and challenges and political consequences of being a visible minority and Asian. North American sterotypes of other and visa versa from the Asian side, views of Americans. The author is japanese american.


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Jul 05, 2013
  • pattyloucor67 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This is America, we would say to ourselves, there is no need to worry. And we would be wrong.


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Otsuka, Julie, 1962-
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