The Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic
by Julie Osaga
2011/129 pages (Kindle)
rating –  9.5

I don’t cry over sad books,  and now I can’t say that anymore.  I live in a town unmentioned in the book,  but in the middle of many towns which are.  I know some personal names and I saw some faces as I read.   The book is immensely powerful and it’s the saddest book I’ve ever read in my whole life.

In  the early 1920s, the women came from Japan to marry a promised suitor, known to them only by a name and a photo.

They were profoundly disappointed of course but they stayed, most of them,

and worked in the fieldsand rich homes and bars and had babies and moved.

There were lots of stories,  all kinds of stories,  hundreds of stories, about work and husbands and babies and love and hardship and homesickness and physical ailments but the stories all come together as the story of a whole group.

Over the years these immigrants assimilated to a large degree,  but then came WWII.

The narrative is unusual in that it is told in first person plural –  “we,” “our,” “us.”   And it is so much more powerful for that

because  the reader understands that the story is not about one family or one little town,  but about over 100,000 people who were eventually interned.

The thing is that the reader really gets into the heads of all these people!   The fears and the rage and the desperation and the rumors and the loss are almost unbearable –

like thousands of feet walking in your head.   I cried – I truly did –

I could barely see the text for the tears.

Notes:

A lot of great photos of Japanese immigrants:
http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/japanese-immigrants.htm

Roosevelt:  “Japanese are gangsters:”  (but this not what the rumors were)
http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/WorldWar2/radio.htm

Black Dragon Society:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Dragon_Society

How One Artist Pictured:
http://artblogbybob.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-one-artist-pictured-japanese.html

Excellent review:
http://www.hyphenmagazine.com/node/3596

PS:
Japanese in military?  Where in the book?

442 Infantry –  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/442nd_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States)

(I know it’s not mentioned in the book that there was a Japanese military unit fighting in Italy – 14,000 men and a draft was necessary for mainland troops – even out of internment.  They were discriminated against in many ways.  Makes the whole thing even sadder to me)

2 Responses to The Buddha in the Attic

  1. Caribousmom says:

    Terrific review, Bekah. Thanks for all the photos and links too –

    Like

  2. This one was a labor of love – thanks, Wendy. 🙂

    Like

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