The Buddha in the Attic
I’m not sure where the old saying “Don’t judge a man untilyou’ve walked a mile in his shoes” originated, but I can tell you that there isno advice better suited to describe Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic thanthose time-honored words of wisdom.
Written in first person plural, The Buddha in the Attic iseasily one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. It tells the story of a generation of Japanese women as theycome to America to pursue better lives with husbands they’ve never met.
The entire book contains not a single line of dialogue, andthere is no main character. Rather, the main character is a collective population of firstgeneration Japanese Americans as they discover that the “better life” theysought in the United States simply was not available to them.
Rather than reading like a traditional novel with plenty ofrich characters and a clearly defined plot, story climax and resolution, The Buddhain the Attic reads more like a long essay illustrating the collectiveexperiences and lack of equality of the Japanese immigrants in America. And yet, in spite of (or maybe becauseof) the writing style, I found the book strangely compelling and absolutelyfascinating.
Though there was no one main character, the collective castof transient characters is so richly described that the reader has nodifficulty being drawn into the story and identifying with every single one ofthe faces whose lives and experiences are described within the pages.
The Buddha in the Attic is a very short read and would be agreat choice for book clubs, as the story lends itself well to thought and discussion. Copies are available at the library instandard, e-book and audio book format.
To learn more about this book, visit the author’s website at http://www.julieotsuka.com/.
~ Catherine H. Armstrong