BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC by Julie Otsuka
is not a novel in the traditional sense.
It is written in such an elegant, sparse style of prose,
this book almost seems like poetry.
The story begins with a group of young Japanese women
traveling from their homeland to San Francisco,
nearly a hundred years ago to marry, sight unseen,
Japanese men waiting for them.
There is no "main character" here,
but rather a chorus of narrators who share
their "lists of experiences" from their arrival,
meetings and marriages,
jobs, ranging from farm laborers, to business owners,
births and raising of children,
to assimilation into American life,
usually as outsiders.
Their experiences continue to the beginning of the
second World War and
the passing of anti-Japanese laws,
concluding with their forced removal to
With broad stokes, and very little detail,
Otsuka totally conveys their heartbreaking stories.