Monday, October 31, 2011

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka is one of the finalists for the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction.  It is a compact, powerful novel that I would have missed but for its nomination.  It is excellent and worthy of recognition.

The novel is the tale of Japanese mail-order brides and their experience coming to and in California from the 1920s through WWII.  The obscure nature of the story alone would have made this novel worth reading.  However, Otsuka uses the first person plural to narrate the story of dozens of women into an immense tapestry.  While the chorus sings the story, individuals step forward for a clause, sentence or even  paragraph solo and then seamlessly fade back into the chorus.  The talent it takes to create such a convincing product cannot be underestimated.

This is a story that you will read in just a few hours but one that will stick with you because of its content and form.  It is well worth reading.

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