Otsuka wins Pen/Faulkner prize


A novel by Japanese-American writer Julie Otsuka has been chosen for the year’s Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction, organizers said.

Otsuka will receive a prize of $15,000 for her novel, “The Buddha in the Attic,” the Pen/Faulkner Foundation said Monday. The book is about Japanese women who emigrated to California in the early 20th century in search of a better life.

The foundation praised the book as “a precise, poetic novel” and Otsuka for crafting “a first-person plural voice that has been described as incantatory.” “Her skill is awesome and utterly inspiring,” Marita Golden, one of the judges, said in a statement.

Born and raised in California, Otsuka in 2002 published “When the Emperor was Divine,” based on her family’s wartime experience. After the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, her grandfather was arrested on suspicion of spying and her mother and other family members were put in internment camps. The book was translated into Japanese and five other languages.