We may not brush our hair, change out of our pajamas, or sit down at the dining table, but we always make time to read.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka
As I become more and more sleep deprived, I find myself wanting straight-forward plot-driven books even more than usual, and avoiding anything remotely "literary". But, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Otsuka's latest, a beautiful and lyrical novel which follows the lives of Japanese picture brides, as they arrive in the United States, develop relationships with their husbands, find work, and eventually, in the midst of World War II, find themselves forced into relocations camps. Otsuka writes in the voice of hundreds of Japanese - and all their varied experiences - the positive and negative, the joyous and the tragic, she is able capture in hardly more than 100 pages, the despair of isolation, and the promise of hope. Otsuka's writing is so precise, I truly felt like I was holding a treasure as I read carefully through each page. Of course, as a Japanese-American, the subject matter of this book is close to my heart, and the pain of my ancestors boils my blood. I found many passages difficult to read, and so many images brought tears to my eyes. But, like Elie Wiesel's, Night, this is a story about the suffering and survival of one group of people that should be required reading for all.