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A precise, understated gem of a first novel, Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine tells one Japanese American family's story of internment in a Utah enemy alien camp during World War II. We never learn the names of the young boy and girl who were forced to leave their Berkeley home in 1942 and spend over three years in a dusty, barren desert camp with their mother. Occasional, heavily censored letters arrive from their father, who had been taken from their house in his slippers by the FBI one night and was being held in New Mexico, his fate uncertain. But even after the war, when they have been reunited and are putting their stripped, vandalized house back together, the family can never regain its pre-war happiness. Broken by circumstance and prejudice, they will continue to pay, in large and small ways, for the shape of their eyes. When the Emperor Was Divine is written in deceptively tranquil prose, a distillation of injustice, anger, and poetry; a notable debut. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This heartbreaking, bracingly unsentimental debut describes in poetic detail the travails of a Japanese family living in an internment camp during World War II, raising the specter of wartime injustice in bone-chilling fashion. After a woman whose husband was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy sees notices posted around her neighborhood in Berkeley instructing Japanese residents to evacuate, she moves with her son and daughter to an internment camp, abruptly severing her ties with her community. The next three years are spent in filthy, cramped and impersonal lodgings as the family is shuttled from one camp to another. They return to Berkeley after the war to a home that has been ravaged by vandals; it takes time for them to adjust to life outside the camps and to come to terms with the hostility they face. When the children's father re-enters the book, he is more of a symbol than a character, reduced to a husk by interrogation and abuse. The novel never strays into melodrama-Otsuka describes the family's everyday life in Berkeley and the pitiful objects that define their world in the camp with admirable restraint and modesty. Events are viewed from numerous characters' points of view, and the different perspectives are defined by distinctive, lyrically simple observations. The novel's honesty and matter-of-fact tone in the face of inconceivable injustice are the source of its power. Anger only comes to the fore during the last segment, when the father is allowed to tell his story-but even here, Otsuka keeps rage neatly bound up, luminous beneath the dazzling surface of her novel.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This was a wonderfully simplistic book. It gives a child's perspective of what was happening the family. Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2007 by V. Tran
This is a great book. "When the EMPEROR Was Divine" by Julie Otsuka written in the year 2002. This book is divided in five different chapters. Read morePublished on March 28 2004 by Kevin
The imprisonment of American citizens of Japanese descent, post Pearl Harbor, remains one of those open, gaping wounds of despicable behavior in our country's history. Read morePublished on March 4 2004 by L. Quido
If someone had recommended a book about the struggles of a Japanese-American family during WWII, I definitely would have declined. Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2004
I admit that I do not feel much sympathy for Japan around the time of World War II. I understand that the principle of sending the Japanese to internment camps was wrong. Read morePublished on Feb. 22 2004
Lovely novel about the internment of Japanese ancestry but American citizens by the military during WWII. Read morePublished on Feb. 16 2004 by John I. Provan
Terrific read ~ clearly more nonfiction than imaginary in text and scope. The effects of war are not devastating on soldiers only; war tears through the whole fabric of humankind. Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2004 by T. Kepler
Life in balmy Berkeley, California for the Mother & her family in 1942 was charmed. Then one dreadful winter morning the FBI took her husband away still in his slippers & robe,... Read morePublished on Jan. 12 2004 by Rebecca Brown