For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


In its 11th season, One Book examines issues of gender, identity, and immigration as seen through the lens of Japanese American women during the first half of the 20th century.

PHILADELPHIA, October 24, 2012—The Free Library of Philadelphia and the Mayor’s Office today announced the selection of Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic as the 2013 One Book, One Philadelphia featured reading selection. Now in its 11th season, this literacy initiative encourages the entire greater Philadelphia region to come together through reading and discussing the same book. Running from January 17 through March 13, 2013, the One Book, One Philadelphia program will include more than 100 related events inspired by the featured selections, including panel discussions, film screenings, musical performances, and more. The One Book program will kick off on January 17, 2013, with a special author event featuring Julie Otsuka.

Winner of the 2012 Pen/Faulkner Award, The Buddha in the Attic is a powerfully moving, poetic novel that tells the tragic story of the Japanese “picture brides” who travelled from Japan to San Francisco in the early 1900s. Julie Otsuka has crafted a first-person plural voice that poignantly captures their collective and individual experiences as wives, mothers, breadwinners, and marginalized members of American society during both peacetime and the onset of World War II. The Buddha in the Attic is threaded with connections to the enduring strength of women, to Japan’s rich heritage, and to the immigrant’s challenge of shaping one’s identity within the confines of an unfamiliar, often unfriendly, and sometimes hostile culture.

One Book, One Philadelphia Chair Marie Field commented, “We are thrilled that prize-winning author Julie Otsuka will impact Philadelphia both through her hauntingly beautiful, evocative novel and her personal appearances throughout the programming period. Inspired by Otsuka’s writing, many of our programs will focus on aspects of Japanese culture and history, the tragedy of the American internment camps, as well as contemporary issues arising from the themes of women’s rights and exploitation. Once again, we shall celebrate and embrace the rich diversity and common humanity of everyone who lives in our community.”

Free Library President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon also commented on her excitement for this year’s selection. “The Buddha in the Attic is a phenomenal book about immigration, identity, and the power of the individual spirit in the face of injustice,” said Reardon. “I am confident that Philadelphians from all walks of life will be drawn to this thoughtful, moving, and poetic novel.”

Founded in 2003 by the Free Library and the Mayor’s Office, One Book motivates tens of thousands of people annually to read a featured selection and participate in related discussions, events, workshops, classes, and more. The 2013 One Book program is sponsored by the Field Family Foundation, the Lenfest Foundation, Stradley Ronon Stevens and Young LLP, and Pepper Hamilton LLP. Media sponsors include WHYY, City Paper, and Harmelin Media. All Free Library locations will have several hard copies of The Buddha in the Attic—as well as the 2013 middle-grade companion book, Journey to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida, and children’s companion book, A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai—for customers to borrow with a Free Library card. In addition, the Free Library will have The Buddha in the Attic available as an ebook for download from its website as well as for loan on circulating NOOK ereaders. The book will also be available in audio format as a CD and as a downloadable audio file at

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About the Free Library’s Commitment to Digital Literacy
The Free Library of Philadelphia aims to provide literacy, learning, and economic recovery for the city of Philadelphia though its unparalleled access and training in the digital space. With more than 30,000 ebooks; 1,000 public access computers; 600 author event podcasts; 150 online databases; daily homework and computer literacy classes online; Hot Spot community computer training centers; and the roving Techmobile “Hot Spot on wheels,” the Free Library’s digital services have never been greater.

About the Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850