Julie Otsuka

The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Julie Otsuka’s grandfather was arrested on suspicion of being a Japanese spy, and the following year her mother, grandmother, and uncle were deported to an internment camp. Born in Palo Alto, Otsuka drew from her family’s World War II experience for her first book, When the Emperor Was Divine, and returned to the subject in her 2011 novel, The Buddha in the Attic. “I was obsessed with the rhythm of the language while writing this novel,” she told Granta. “I was constantly reading my sentences out loud so I could hear where the accents fell. I could often hear the rhythmic pattern of the next sentence I wanted to write before I knew the exact words to drop into that pattern. And at times I found myself doing things like searching for the right three-syllable town in California where they had Japanese migrant laborers working in the peach orchards…A two-syllable town with orange groves just would not do.”

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