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The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka **** (of 4)

An elegy for the Japanese women who arrived in California in the early part of the twentieth century as mail-order brides to join lonely Japanese laborers.  Agreeing to marry an unknown man in a far-off land can only be undertaken by women whose prospects at home must be even worse.  Otsuka chooses no individual character to follow, instead providing a wash of experiences as she tracks in single poetic lines the lives of all women subject to extraordinary dislocation.  At first, a bit dissatisfying to read, this spare account in the end encompasses the experience of everywoman with precision and compassion.