bipoc books

discover books by bipoc authors

When the Emperor Was Divine

When the Emperor Was Divine

From the bestselling, award-winning author of The Buddha in the Attic and The Swimmers, this commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese American incarceration camps that is both a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and a resonant lesson for our times.

On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, and matter-of-factly begins to pack her family’s possessions. Like thousands of other Japanese Americans they have been reclassified, virtually overnight, as enemy aliens and are about to be uprooted from their home and sent to a dusty incarceration camp in the Utah desert.

In this lean and devastatingly evocative first novel, Julie Otsuka tells their story from five flawlessly realized points of view and conveys the exact emotional texture of their experience: the thin-walled barracks and barbed-wire fences, the omnipresent fear and loneliness, the unheralded feats of heroism. When the Emperor Was Divine is a work of enormous power that makes a shameful episode of our history as immediate as today’s headlines.

Book Details

Publisher: Anchor
Publish Date: October 14, 2003
ISBN: 9780345807274
Language: English

About the Author

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 later turning to writing.

Otsuka is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Harper’s, Newsweek, 100 Years of The Best American Short Stories, The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story, The Best American Short Stories 2012, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012, and has been 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.

Browse More Books