About the Book
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.
As one of the book selection committee members notes, "The book outlines a part of American history that is likely not often discussed by this generation of college students. Specifically, the story helps the reader understand the impact that internment camps had on an American family during World War II. More broadly, however, it helps clarify the ways that fear and ignorance can be damaging to an entire society." ~Dr. Rob Boyle