En un día soleado de 1942, en California, una mujer se detiene ante un cartel en la oficina de correos. Después de leerlo, regresa inmediatamente a casa y comienza a preparar un equipaje con todas sus pertenencias. El gobierno de Estados Unidos la ha declarado a ella y a su familia, como a otros miles de americanos de origen japonés, «enemigos» en su propio país y están a punto de ser arrancados de su hogar. Un campo de internamiento, en el desierto de Utah, les espera. ...
En un día soleado de 1942, en California, una mujer se detiene ante un cartel en la oficina de correos. Después de leerlo, regresa inmediatamente a casa y comienza a preparar un equipaje con todas sus pertenencias. El gobierno de Estados Unidos la ha declarado a ella y a su familia, como a otros miles de americanos de origen japonés, «enemigos» en su propio país y están a punto de ser arrancados de su hogar. Un campo de internamiento, en el desierto de Utah, les espera.
Former artist Julie Otsuka's talent took a literary turn when she put down her brushes and picked up a pen to write her stunning debut novel, When the Emperor Was Divine.
Julie Otsuka was born and raised in California. After studying art as an undergraduate at Yale University she pursued a career as a painter for several years before turning to fiction writing at age 30. She received her MFA from Columbia.
Her first novel, When the Emperor Was Divine (Knopf, 2002), is about the internment of a Japanese-American family during World War II. It was a New York Times Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers finalist. The book is based on Otsuka's own family history: her grandfather was arrested by the FBI as a suspected spy for Japan the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and her mother, uncle and grandmother spent three years in an internment camp in Topaz, Utah. When the Emperor Was Divine has been translated into six languages and sold more than 250,000 copies. The New York Times called it "a resonant and beautifully nuanced achievement" and USA Today described it as "A gem of a book and one of the most vivid history lessons you'll ever learn."
Her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic (Knopf, 2011), is about a group of young Japanese 'picture brides' who sailed to America in the early 1900s to become the wives of men they had never met and knew only by their photographs.
Otsuka's fiction has been published in Granta and Harper's and read aloud on PRI's "Selected Shorts" and BBC Radio 4's "Book at Bedtime." She lives in New York City, where she writes every afternoon in her neighborhood café.
Good To Know
In our interview, Otsuka revealed some interesting facts about herself:
"I wrote a good part of Emperor in my neighborhood café. I have a favorite seat, way in back in the corner, and I've been sitting there for years. Writing is an extremely lonely pursuit, and there's something comforting about being out in a public place, surrounded by people you know and see every daythe waitresses, the other regulars who are also working on books or screenplays or musical scores of their own. Everyone's in there just making stuff up. And eating pastry, too, of course."
"I had no idea when I started writing ‘Evacuation Order No. 19'the first chapter of my novelthat it would turn into something larger. I'd never written anything serious before, only comic fiction, and had never intended to take on the subject of the war. But the character of the woman in the story simply took up residence, one day, in my head: I saw her standing alone on a street, reading the evacuation notice for the first time, and then I followed her home to see who she was, and what she might do after that."
"I came to New York to be a painter, and failed. My background in the visual arts, however, has definitely influenced the way I workthe process of painting is not all that different from that of writing. You wake up, go to your studio or your desk, you sketch out a scene, it's all wrong, you make it a little warmer, a little cooler, it's still wrong…Because I'd failed as a painter, I felt that I had nothing to lose when I began writing, which made it easier, somehow."