Julie Otsuka researched the first person accounts of the Japanese picture brides of the first half of the Twentieth Century up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. From her research she has written a series of seven psalms using the words and thoughts of these women, repressed racially, socially, economically, and personally by their husbands. The book is The Buddha in the Attic.
The psalms are meant to be read rather than sung, chanted, or prayed; but they have the feel of an appeal to a higher power. The first recounts the dark and miserable journey by sea. The second laments the wedding experience as one of economy and lust than of love. The third cries out against the white population that lived over and surrounded them. The fourth and fifth detail having children and raising children in the most primitive of circumstances. The sixth chronicles the fear of governmental arrest and relocation. The seventh sadly details their final days before departure for unknown camps.
The final psalm breaks stride as it is not from the Japanese American women but from the white communities left to prosper from the war economy and wipe away all signs of their former neighbors. If you are of Japanese American heritage, you will be moved by the first seven psalms. Ignore the final psalm as an unnecessary discordant addition. Charles Marlin