The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, 2011.
You can’t talk about Buddha without talking about the use of the first person plural. It’s collective, it emphasizes the group, and suddenly the stories aren’t about a specific abusive relationship or one microaggression, but a pattern of structural misogyny, abuse, and whiteness. Simultaneously it’s also individual, specific: tens and hundreds of unabstract moments that are each inhabitable and real.
And suddenly I’d be pulled out by the names and details: that’s my great grandmother’s name. Is this her? That’s my grandmother’s name. Is this her? That’s where they lived and worked on a farm; is this them? Of course it probably isn’t, except it doesn’t matter, because it’s a shared story, and so it is them.