When the Emperor Was Divine

  • by Julie Otsuka
  • Narrated by Elaina Erika Davis
  • 3 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


What the Critics Say

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


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

Amazing 😉 wow 😳

Must read for diversity. Trauma and a different perspective of another culture for stereotypes and biases that are so commonly accepted. Now seen from a wonderfully told story of the another story less heard and shared in common society
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- Ajay

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-16-2003
  • Publisher: Random House Audio