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Julie Otsuka

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 turning to fiction writing at age 30. She received her MFA from Columbia. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Asian American Literary Award, and the American Library Association Alex Award.

Her first novel, When the Emperor Was Divine, is about the internment of a Japanese-American family during World War II. It was a New York Times Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers finalist. The book is based on Otsukas own family history: her grandfather was arrested by the FBI as a suspected spy for Japan the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and her mother, uncle and grandmother spent three years in an internment camp in Topaz, Utah. When the Emperor Was Divine has been translated into six languages and sold more than 250,000 copies. The New York Times called it a resonant and beautifully nuanced achievement and USA Today described it as A gem of a book and one of the most vivid history lessons youll ever learn. It has been assigned to all incoming freshmen at more than 35 colleges and universities and is a regular Community Reads selection across the US.

Genres: Literary Fiction

National Book Award for Fiction Best Book nominee (2011) : The Buddha in the Attic
PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction Best Book winner (2012) : The Buddha in the Attic
International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards Best Novel nominee (2013) : The Buddha in the Attic

Julie Otsuka recommends
Sansei and Sensibility (2020)
Karen Tei Yamashita
"Dazzling. An extraordinarily inventive collection of short stories that takes us from Japan to Brazil to the fractured heart of suburban postwar Japanese America. Whether she is riffing on Jane Austen, channeling Jorge Luis Borges, or meditating on Marie Kondo, Yamashita is a brilliant and often subversive storyteller in superb command of her craft."

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