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 Julie Otsuka


Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka is an award-winning Japanese American author. Otsuka is known for her historical fiction novels dealing with Japanese Americans. Her books are known for calling attention to the plight of Japanese Americans throughout World War II. She did not live through the Japanese Internment period, but her parents did which gives Otsuka a unique and personal perspective on the matter. When the Emperor Was Divine was the first fiction novel where she discusses Japanese internment camps. With a background as a painter, Julie Otsuka's attention to detail and great descriptions give the reader vivid imagery of different situations throughout her novels.

Otsuka was born in 1962, in Palo Alto, California. Her father worked as an aerospace engineer, while her mother worked as a lab technician before she gave birth to Otsuka. Both of her parents were of Japanese descent, with her father being an issei and her mother being a nisei. At the age of nine, her family moved to Palos Verdes, California. She has two brothers, one of whom, Michael Otsuka, is currently teaching at the London School of Economics.

After graduating from high school, Otsuka attended Yale University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984. She later graduated from Columbia University with a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1999.  Her debut novel When the Emperor Was Divine dealt with Japanese American internment during World War II. It was published in 2002 by Alfred A. Knopf. Her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic (2011), is about Japanese picture brides.

Otsuka lives in New York City.