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Longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction It is four months after Pearl Harbour and overnight signs appear all over the United States instructing Japanese Americans to report to internment camps for the duration of the war. For one family it proves to be a nightmare of oppression and alienation. Explored from varying points of view - the mother receiving the order to evacuate; the daughter on the long train journey; the son in the desert encampment; the family's return home; and the bitter release of their father after four years in captivity - it tells of an incarceration that will alter their lives for ever. Based on a true story, Julie Otsuka's powerful, deeply humane novel tells of an unjustly forgotten episode in America's wartime history.
The debut novel from the PEN/Faulkner Award Winning Author of The Buddha in the Attic On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, and matter-of-factly begins to pack her family's possessions. Like thousands of other Japanese Americans they have been reclassified, virtually overnight, as enemy aliens and are about to be uprooted from their home and sent to a dusty internment camp in the Utah desert. In this lean and devastatingly evocative first novel, Julie Otsuka tells their story from five flawlessly realized points of view and conveys the exact emotional texture of their experience: the thin-walled barracks and barbed-wire fences, the omnipresent fear and loneliness, the unheralded feats of heroism. When the Emperor Was Divine is a work of enormous power that makes a shameful episode of our history as immediate as today's headlines.
A story told from five different points of view chronicles the experiences of Japanese Americans caught up in the nightmare of the World War II internment camps.
Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic, the follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine was shortlisted for the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and winner of the Pen Faulkner Award for Fiction 2012. Between the first and second world wars a group of young, non-English-speaking Japanese women travelled by boat to America. They were picture brides, clutching photos of husbands-to-be whom they had yet to meet. Julie Otsuka tells their extraordinary, heartbreaking story in this spellbinding and poetic account of strangers lost and alone in a new and deeply foreign land. 'Sweeping, symphonic, empathic . . . subtle, infinitely skilful . . . an exhilarating, compulsive read. Otsuka's haunting, heartbreaking conclusion, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, is faultless' Daily Mail 'A tender, nuanced, empathetic exploration of the sorrows and consolations of a whole generation of women . . . the distaff equivalent of a war memorial' Daily Telegraph 'A haunting and heartbreaking look at the immigrant experience . . . Otsuka's keenly observed prose manages to capture whole histories in a sweep of gorgeous incantatory sentences' Marie Claire 'An understated masterpiece... she conjures up the lost voices of a generation of Japanese American women without losing sight of the distinct experience of each' San Francisco Chronicle Julie Otsuka was born and raised in California. She is the author of the novel When the Emperor Was Divine, and a recipient of the Asian American Literary Award, the American Library Association Alex Award, and a Guggenheim fellowship. Her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic, was nominated for the 2011 National Book Award. She lives in New York City.
The debut novel from the PEN/Faulkner Award Winning Author of *The Buddha in the Attic* On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, and matter-of-factly begins to pack her family's possessions. Like thousands of other Japanese Americans they have been reclassified, virtually overnight, as enemy aliens and are about to be uprooted from their home and sent to a dusty internment camp in the Utah desert. In this lean and devastatingly evocative first novel, Julie Otsuka tells their story from five flawlessly realized points of view and conveys the exact emotional texture of their experience: the thin-walled barracks and barbed-wire fences, the omnipresent fear and loneliness, the unheralded feats of heroism. When the Emperor Was Divine is a work of enormous power that makes a shameful episode of our history as immediate as today's headlines. Amazon.com Review 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 From Publishers Weekly 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.
A Study Guide for Julie Otsuka's "When the Emperor Was Divine," excerpted from Gale's acclaimed Novels for Students. This concise study guide includes plot summary; character analysis; author biography; study questions; historical context; suggestions for further reading; and much more. For any literature project, trust Novels for Students for all of your research needs.
"Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. The book explores the emperor's image as conveyed through literature, art, and architecture, and shows how Constantine reconciled the tradition of imperial divinity with his monotheistic faith. It demonstrates how the traditional themes and imagery of kingship were exploited to portray the emperor as the saviour of his people and to assimilate him to Christ. This is the first book to study simultaneously both archaeological and historical information to build a picture of the emperor's image and propaganda. It is extensively illustrated" --Provided by publisher.

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