Book Twenty-Five: The Buddha in the Attic

buddha in the attic

The Buddha in the Attic tells the story of a group of Japanese ‘mail order brides’ who emigrate to the States from Japan to be married to Japanese ex-pats living there. They travel unsure of what to expect, relying on photos and letters they’d been sent, only to arrive to men who look 10 years older than their photo. Over time they settle in the US and become accustomed to the foreign ways. Some make their living as maids, others as farm hands doing crippling work. Some are happy, some sad, but they build an existence in the States – until the war comes and the attack on Pearl Harbour means that the US is no longer a safe place for these Japanese families to be.

This is a highly unusual book in that there is no central narrative and no attention paid to individual characters – it’s a shared narrative of many women – and indeed it is written as ‘we’ throughout. This has a rather distancing effect, but also allows an extremely broad, shared experience to come through. It’s a short book that could easily be read in one sitting and often reads like a list – a device that can be quite alienating and repetitive. I expect this is a book you will either love or hate and I feel really that it’s best to read it quickly to get the full effect. I struggled with it a little as I was still shell shocked from reading A Fine Balance and this just didn’t grab me. Having said that, it’s an interesting account of Japanese life in the US between the wars and the shared narrative does convey a strong female voice. Despite feeling quite detached from the narrative throughout, it’s still a powerful story which touches on some very interesting themes. Worth a read – this would easily fill a long train/plane journey so maybe one to save for when you have time and concentration to finish it one go.


To accompany this book, it was obvious to me that I should make sushi and I stumbled upon a recipe for vegetarian sushi that I was eager to try from Deliciously Ella. A very simple recipe to make, all you need is:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • Nori sheets
  • Raw veggies: I used carrot, red pepper and lightly steamed asparagus
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • wasabi paste (optional)

Firstly cook the quinoa in boiling water. Once cooked, allow to cool slightly (I rinsed with cold water).

Cut the veg into strips.

Blend the avocado, oil, vinegar and wasabi paste if using in a blender until it forms a creamy dip.

Once you have all the elements prepared it’s time to assemble!! This bit is a little tricky as quinoa is not sticky like sushi rice. Take a sheet of nori, spread some avocado mix in a strip down one edge then top with quinoa and then the veg, then roll. Once you have a roll, cut into slices and hey presto, you have fake sushi!

Here’s a pic of my messy sushi rolls – despite appearances they tasted pretty good and were good fun to make!



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