When the Emperor Was Divine

Last night I finished a novel by Julie Otsuka entitled When the Emperor Was Divine. It’s quite a magnificent book, largely understated in its themes and writing. It follows the story of a Japanese family (mother and her daughter and son) as they are relocated to an internment camp during the height of World War II. The book details the injustices and hardships and how peoples lives were stripped away by wartime internment, then continues to their return to vandalized home and unwanting neighbours. Touching as it is as depressing, the entire book is written in the third person, making it into a true “everyman” story. It’s easy to imagine this happening to tens of thousands of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans.