Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka is an American author known for her historical fiction. Her notable works include 'When the Emperor Was Divine' and 'The Buddha in the Attic,' both of which address the experiences of Japanese Americans during and after World War II. Otsuka's writing is recognized for its eloquent prose and poignant exploration of themes such as identity, displacement, and belonging.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. The Buddha in the Attic

    "The Buddha in the Attic" is a historical novel that tells the story of Japanese picture brides migrating to America in the early 20th century. It follows their journey from their traditional homes in Japan to their new lives in California, their struggles with language barriers, cultural differences, and harsh working conditions. The book also explores their experiences during World War II when they and their American-born children were taken to internment camps. The narrative is presented in a collective first-person voice, providing a chorus of the women's viewpoints.

  2. 2. When The Emperor Was Divine

    The book is a poignant narrative that follows a Japanese American family uprooted from their home and sent to an internment camp during World War II. Told from multiple perspectives, including the mother, daughter, and son, the story unfolds the emotional and psychological impact of their forced displacement and the stigmatization they endure. The family's experience is a testament to the resilience and quiet suffering of those who were subjected to this injustice, capturing the sense of loss and the struggle to maintain dignity in the face of dehumanization and the erosion of their identity.

  3. 3. The Swimmers

    The book is a poignant exploration of community, memory, and the human condition, centered around a group of swimmers who find solace and connection in their local underground pool. When a crack appears in the pool's bottom, the swimmers are dispersed, and the narrative shifts focus to one of them, a woman succumbing to dementia. As her memory deteriorates, the story delves into her past and the experiences of her Japanese American family, touching on themes of displacement, identity, and the enduring impact of internment during World War II. The narrative weaves together the collective and personal, creating a tapestry of lives affected by loss, change, and the relentless passage of time.