When the Emperor Was Divine

When the Emperor Was Divine

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Title:When the Emperor Was Divine
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780385721813
Format Type:

    When the Emperor Was Divine Reviews

  • Nataliya

    “But we never stopped believing that somewhere out there, in some stranger’s backyard, our mother’s rosebush was blossoming madly, wildly, pressing one perfect red flower after another out in...

  • Diane

    This historical novel is both gorgeous and heartbreaking. It follows a Japanese-American family that is sent to an internment camp in the Utah desert during World War II. The story follows the family ...

  • Megan Baxter

    How do you write about trauma? Are you verbose and expansive? Terse and straighforward? In this case, you use elegant and spare prose that brings home the extent of the wrong by never quite stating it...

  • Ahmad Sharabiani

    When the Emperor Was Divine, Julie OtsukaWhen the Emperor was Divine is a historical fiction novel written by American author Julie Otsuka about a Japanese American family sent to an internment camp i...

  • Michael

    I love Otsuka’s voice, judicious metaphors, and understated emotional hooks in this child’s eye view of the Japanese internment in World War 2. I have already had the pleasure of her 2011 gem, “...

  • Derek

    I recognize that the terse language, namelessness of the characters, and relatively uneventful plot in Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor was Divine are all aesthetic choices. They’re just not choice...

  • Idarah

    I finished reading When the Emperor Was Divine a couple of days ago, and I was at a loss for words for my review. Everything that I noticed, felt, and appreciated about the denseness of this sparse li...

  • Aubrey

    As of this moment, there are various rules and regulations being pushed through the US government regarding the formation of internment camps for refugees fleeing through the US-Mexican border from th...

  • Teresa

    3.75While not as lyrical as The Buddha in the Attic, Otsuka’s first novel achieves much of the same cumulative power. The penultimate chapter, written in first-person plural, is, of course, most rem...

  • Sue

    This is a difficult book to read, as well it should be, a book of loneliness, deep sadness and alienation during an episode of fairly recent history. During World War II, in fact, mere months after Pe...