Chatting One Book: The Buddha in the Attic, “Come, Japanese!”

By Michelle S. RSS Wed, January 23, 2013

Throughout these eight inspired weeks of One Book, One Philadelphia, I’ll be blogging about each chapter of Julie Otsuka’s masterful featured selection, The Buddha in the Attic. I hope you’ll join me in conversation in the comments!

In the first section of the novel, “Come, Japanese!”, I was immediately struck by the unique voice that Otsuka uses to tell this story—the first person plural. She alternates paragraphs of prose beginning with “Most of us” and “Some of us,” but never does she go into the perspective of one single woman’s thoughts—it’s always told from the perspective of the group of women. The first person plural voice both indicates to me that these women were having a common, shared experience but also that they weren’t necessarily seen as individuals or that they had lost their unique identity (or uniqueness wasn’t a valued characteristic). What does the use of first person voice do for you as a reader?

What else did you take away from “Come, Japanese!”? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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