“This book tells the story of Japanese women brought to San Francisco as "picture brides" for Japanese workers nearly a hundred years ago. Each of the book's eight sections tells the experiences of these women, from their journey at sea, meeting their husbands for the first time, having and raising children, and coping with the customs and attitudes of the locals. It's beautifully written, and unusual in that it is presented as a list of experiences, rather than a novel with one central character. This is a quick read that gives a good idea of what these women would have gone through in the lead up to war - thought provoking and interesting, it's always good to see part of history from the perspective of those who went through such experiences.”Fiona wrote this review Friday, July 12, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“In this spare but luminously written novel, Otsuka tells the story of young women who came to America from Japan as “picture brides” in the early 1900s. Through the course of the novel she traces the lives of these immigrants from their journey by boat, to their arrival in San Francisco, their first nights as new wives, their hardships working in unaccustomed ways, their experiences raising children, their relief and pride in building a new life in a new land, and finally to the arrival of war and the loss of what they had built as they were sent with their families to internment camps.
Otsuka won the Pen Faulkner Award for Fiction for this book. She writes mostly in a first person plural voice, using short simple sentences: On the boat we were mostly virgins. We had long black hair and flat wide feet and we were not very tall.
They gave us new names. They called us Helen or Lily.
We gave birth to babies that were so beautiful we could not believe they were ours. We gave birth to babies with colic.
In this way the story is about everyone, or anyone, or no one. Yet it is strongly evocative of time and place, and has an aura of immediacy about it. The reader feels the hopes, sorrows, disappointments, joys, fears, anguish, love, puzzlement, and pride along with these nameless women.
I’ve read other novels that dealt with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas and Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet are two examples. But this novel and Otsuka’s previous work, When the Emperor Was Divine, are special in the way she conveys the thoughts and feelings of the Japanese themselves.
“A haunting read; I enjoyed the writing style and feel it captures what life was like for the "picture brides" ... the use of the plural 1st and 3rd persons (we, they), but still individualized (she, he), was powerful and effective. It paints an empathetic and poignant picture of life for the Japanese immigrants in that time period of our nation's history.”Chris wrote this review Thursday, July 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Interesting book about the immigration of Japanese to the US. The book starts as Japanese women are on ships bringing them to husbands that was arranged via correspondence. The book is told collectively, not focusing on any one particular person. It takes us to the shores where they are collected by their husbands then continues on to the hard life they lived working farms in the California central valley and ends as they are taken away to internment camps during WW2. This is a short book but manages to convey all the emotions of the time. ”Marian S wrote this review Monday, July 1, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Told in the 3rd person plural. The collective experience of Japanese women brought over to the US. to marry. Starts in the 1920s through the WW2 camps”Beth H wrote this review Wednesday, June 26, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A bit to distant narration a bit boring.”Judy Castrejon wrote this review Wednesday, June 26, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Wonderful book and great look into another culture and tiime period. Unfortunately, it is yet another example of our mistreating a race through no fault of their own (like the American Indians, blacks, other asians, Hispanics, etc.) but that they weren't the white/right one.
This book follows mainly the lives of the women from the hopeful early days of Japanese immigration to the shameful days of WWII when they were lead into forced segregation from everything they had built for themselves.
Also, this book is considered to be the "prequel" to her previously published novel When the Emperor Was Divine.”
“I really liked the unusual writing style.”Cathy R wrote this review Wednesday, May 29, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“For my full review please visit messybooker.blogspot.com”Tonymess wrote this review Wednesday, May 29, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No