FictionThe Buddha In The Attic by Julie Otsuka

The Buddha In The Attic by Julie Otsuka


In April I went on my first trip away since Covid hit. One of the books I brought along was The Swimmers by Julia Otsuka. I was mesmerised — Otsuka’s writing is a total gift and I found myself completely immersed in this novel that centres around a swimming pool. 

I had to read more Otsuka so bought myself this one. It’s slim in size but oh my, it packs a mighty punch. The Buddha in the Attic is the story of a group of Japanese brides heading to the USA in the early 1900s. It is almost poetic in its prose and Otsuka writes in the first person plural throughout which gives this novel a compelling and utterly haunting quality.

The novel begins with the brides on the boat, holding onto photos of their husbands across the sea. These men will not be who their pictures convey them to be and the impact of this upon the brides’ arrival sets the story in motion. Otsuka’s talent is perhaps best reflected in the fact that you will find yourself caring deeply about this group in its entirety; their collective experience is as powerful as a story told in the first person singular, if not even more so. The singular still comes through in moments and when it does, it is incredibly moving. 

A beautiful, heartbreaking and moving novel which felt entirely real, I’m going to get myself more of Otsuka’s books to read and I strongly suggest you do too ~ S Jul

Order your copy here.

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