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Open Books Open Minds - When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
The RIC Open Books--Open Minds common book for 2011/2012.
Open Books--Open Minds is the Rhode Island College common book program. This initiative brings together first-year students early in their first semester at RIC, and links them with upper classmen, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and the greater Rhode Island community through book discussions and participation in a rich array of programs and activities.
Judith Stokes, Associate Professor Emerita (Adams Library) and continuing member of the RIC OBOM Committee, is graciously assisting in creating and updating the Open Books - Open Minds Common Book LibGuides.
This powerful first novel describes a Japanese family’s displacement from its home in Berkeley to an internment camp. After the father is arrested in 1942 on suspicion of conspiracy, the mother, daughter, and son spend three years being moved from camp to camp, hearing only occasionally from the father and then only in heavily-censored letters. The story of those three years, with their “No Japs Allowed” signs and dreadful living conditions--and the aftermath, when the family returns to its vandalized home and tries to return to normalcy--is told from multiple, shifting points of view. For the novel, Otsuka drew on her grandparents’ experiences as well as on research into the 10,000 Japanese Americans interned during World War II.
Interviews with Julie Otsuka
Julie Otsuka Interviewed by Andrew Duncan on IndieBound
What made you choose Japanese-American internment camps as the subject matter for your first novel?
I feel like the subject matter chose me. I had never planned to write a novel about the camps -- too daunting, subject-matter-wise, and who was I to tell this particular story anyway? Would anyone even want to hear about the camps? But images of the war seemed to keep surfacing in my work, so clearly the camps were something I needed to write about. read more
"Simmering Perfection" by William Nakayama on Goldsea.com
Every first novelist daydreams of having the editors at a prestigious literary house fall in love with the manuscript over a weekend and call Monday with a handsome offer. Julie Otsuka may be the exception. read more