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Saturday, December 8, 2007

When the Emperor was Divine...Review

About the book:
Julie Otsuka’s commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination—both physical and emotional—of a generation of Japanese Americans. In five chapters, each flawlessly executed from a different point of view—the mother receiving the order to evacuate; the daughter on the long train ride to the camp; the son in the desert encampment; the family’s return to their home; and the bitter release of the father after more than four years in captivity—she has created a small tour de force, a novel of unrelenting economy and suppressed emotion. Spare, intimate, arrestingly understated, When the Emperor Was Divine is a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times. It heralds the arrival of a singularly gifted new novelist.

I really enjoyed this. It's an easy book to read. The story is about a Japanese/American family sent to an internment camp in Utah during World War II. Each chapter is written from a different viewpoint: the mother, as she prepares to leave; the daughter; the son; and the father after he returns.

The author's style is very soft, very simple, but yet, very deceptive as she describes a difficult time in beautiful, almost artistic prose. A good, thought-provoking novel.

Read 12/07

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