Club Book Episode 136 Julie Otsuka

Chart-topping novelist Julie Otsuka is the daughter of Japanese immigrants, and a poignant chronicler of the Japanese American experience across the first half of the twentieth century. Her breakout debut When the Emperor Was Divine (2003) shines light on California’s dehumanizing concentration camps for Japanese Americans – a shameful and often overlooked chapter of American history. It holds distinction as one of the most popular Community Reads titles in the country, and more than 45 colleges and universities have assigned it as required reading for incoming freshmen. Otsuka’s follow-up, Buddha in the Attic (2011), breathes life into the untold story of Japanese “picture brides” in the early 1900s. It garnered the PEN/Faulker Award, put Otsuka in contention for the National Book Award, and has since been translated into more than 20 languages. Her latest novel, The Swimmers, revisits the theme of American concentration camps – this time, through the fractured lenses of retrospection and memory loss. Booklist raves: “Once again, Otsuka has created an elegiac, devastating masterpiece.”

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