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When the Emperor Was Divine
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When the Emperor Was Divine

By Julie Otsuka
2002, 144 pages, hardback.
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About the Author

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Book Description from Front Cover Flap

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.

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Comments from Back Cover

"With a matter-of-fact brilliance, and a poise as prominent in the protagonist as it is in the writing, Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine is a novel about loyalty, about identity, and about being other in America during uncertain times."

"As Otsuka chronicles one family's banishment from the American dream and their days of exile in the grim badlands of American reality, her voice never falters, equally adept at capturing horrific necessity and accidental beauty. Her unsung prisoners of war contend with multiple front lines, and enemies who wear the faces of neighbors and friends. It only takes a few pages to join their cause, but by the time you finish this exceptional debut, you will recognize that their struggle has always been yours."

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Background on Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka was born and raised in California. She is a graduate of Yale University and received her M.F.A. from Columbia. She lives in New York City.

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