Now available from Anchor Books

Julie Otsuka’s long-awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago.

In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the picture brides’ extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.

In language that has the force and the fury of poetry, Julie Otsuka has written a singularly spellbinding novel about the American dream.


“Otsuka’s incantatory style pulls her prose close to poetry.”

The New York Times Book Review
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“Otsuka combines the tragic power of a Greek chorus with the intimacy of a confession…An understated masterpiece…[that] seems destined to endure.”

San Francisco Chronicle
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“A stunning feat of empathetic imagination and emotional compression.”

Vogue Magazine Top Ten Books 2011
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“In iridescent colors that flicker, blend, and shimmer between light and dark, Otsuka crafts a communal self-portrait of Japanese women who came to America as picture brides…Unforgettable.”

Library Journal Top Ten Books 2011
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“Otsuka masterfully creates a chorus of unforgettable voices that echo throughout the chambers of this slim but commanding novel.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune
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“Symphonic in scope…prose that’s as close to music as prose can be.”

Seattle Times
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“A magical act of compression… this chorus of narrators speaks in a poetry that is both spare and passionate, sure to haunt even the most coldhearted among us.”

Chicago Tribune (Editor’s choice)
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“Otsuka works an enchantment upon her readers…and leaves us haunted and astonished at the powers of her subtlety and charms.”

Library Journal

“Entrancing, appalling, and heartbreakingly beautiful.”

–Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

“Haunting and intimate…Otsuka extracts the grace and strength at the core of immigrant (and female) survival.”

More Magazine

“A delicate, heartbreaking portrait…Readers will finish [this] exceptional book profoundly moved.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A spare and stunning novel.”

O Magazine

“A lithe stunner.”

Elle Magazine

“A lovely prose poem that gives a bitter history lesson.”

Kirkus Reviews