Monday, May 20, 2013

#2 by the Author and a New Space

"Buddha in the Attic" is the second book by Julie Otsuka.  We read this one for the May Newberry book group.  Her first book, "When the Emperor was Divine", was a selection for last year's Novella group.  If you have not read either I highly recommend them both.  They are slim books and would be good for a flight or a few nights in a hotel.  

"Buddha in the Attic" follows picture brides from Japan to their arrival in the United States and the lives they lead.  You are taken up to the Japanese internment and that is when you lose the Japanese narration.  It feels like a prequel to "When the Emperor was Divine".  The story is told in first person plural which was a little odd when I started reading.  At first I thought "oh, this is going to get tiring" but it's actually really smart and made for a good discussion point at the Newberry group.  Most of us felt the choice of first person plural allowed Otsuka to tell a larger story.  By not focusing on one person you realize how many people the immigration and internment affected.  However, one woman in our group, of Korean descent, said she felt this was not unusual and was more Asian/Eastern where the individual is less pronounced than in the American culture of I or ME.  Interesting.   (She shared an example of how letters are addressed in the U.S. - that we put the person's name first and then everything else but in Korea they put the person's name last).  

I really hope Julie Otsuka does not get pigeonholed.  Although I would love to read a book about the people who are awarded the reparation money in the 1980s so long after WWII.  But I think she is a very strong writer who could probably tackle a variety of subjects.  

Nice upgrade to our apartment.  We finally got rid of a futon (yay!) and bought reading chairs at a vintage fair this weekend.  Now we have a reading area.  So pleasant last night after dinner.  I can envision a lot more reading now that you aren't tempted by the television.  Although I'm not giving up Storage Wars!  And...as you can see... Pistache really likes the new chairs.  
It's best we were able to purchase two chairs.  That way we don't have to fight, or be sad, if one of them is in use.

And by "in use" I mean the cat is hogging the chair!  Although you can kind of squish in with her but it's not ideal.  


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