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Publisher's Summary

On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her house, 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 they are about to be uprooted from their home and sent to a dusty internment 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.
©2003 Julie Otsuka (P)2003 Random House, Inc., Random House Audio, A Division of Random House, Inc.
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Critic Reviews



Alex Award Winner, 2003
"Exceptional...Otsuka skillfully dramatizes a world suddenly foreign...[Her] incantatory, unsentimental prose is the book's greatest strength." (The New Yorker)
"The novel's honesty and matter-of-fact tone in the face of inconceivable injustice are the source of its power." (Publishers Weekly)
"Mesmerizing." (The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Gillian on 02-27-07

Excellent

Fascinating book, couldn't wait to drive home to turn on the ipod and listen.
A classic

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Marian Reven on 04-25-18

Human nature is to stereotype

Hard to resist the leap to compare this to the more recent horror of 9/11. How it must feel to be of Middle Eastern decent today. How it must have felt to be Japanese back then.
I do not say this to offend anyone, it could be said of any of us that someone of our race or country has done unthinkable things.
I think high school students would benefit from reading this book. Thank you

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