All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka, is a poignant and poetic short novel about Japanese immigrants to the United States.  Told from multiple perspectives, she follows the journey of young Japanese women to meet their waiting husbands in America, their home lives as they adjust to their new surroundings, and eventually to the suspicion that tormented them during World War II. 

Otsuka captures well the dreams of the young Japanese women and their experience traveling to America.  The young women share the pictures and stories they've learned about their husbands, whom they haven't yet met, who will meet them at the dock.  They learn how different the men are from the stories they'd been told, and how often their husbands do not resemble the photos they were given, mainly because the pictures weren't of them at all.  Instead of a banker, their husband was a field worker.  Instead of a business owner, their husband was a gardener.  Instead of living a life of leisure, they would be field workers and domestic help, lives no better than they left behind in Japan. 

Japanese immigrants faced prejudice and mistrust.  Stereotypes portrayed them as hard workers, and then later as untrustworthy spies.  They watched as their neighbors disappeared, accused of being enemy sympathizers.  They hid, but prepared for a mysterious knock at their door. 

Otsuka's style of narrating the story is all encompassing, relating the story from many angles.  "One swore she would one day marry a preacher, so she wouldn't have to pick berries on Sundays.  One wanted to save up enough money to buy his own farm.  One wanted to become a tomato grower like his father. One wanted to become anything but."  Otsuka powerfully records their hopes, their dreams, even their resignation.  Otsuka writes, "They learned that some people are born luckier than others and that things in this world do not always go as you plan." 

The Buddha in the Attic was published in 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf. 

No comments:

Post a Comment