Greenwich Reads Together author to speak Thursday at Greenwich Library

In celebration of the 2013 Reads Together novel, When the Emperor was Divine, author Julie Otsuka will speak at Greenwich Library tonight, April 25.

The book begins on a sunny day in Berkeley, Calif., in 1942 when a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, and matter-of-factly begins to pack her family’s possessions.

Like thousands of other Japanese Americans they have been reclassified, virtually overnight, as enemy aliens and are about to be uprooted from their home and sent to a dusty internment camp in the Utah desert.

In this lean and evocative novel, Ms. Otsuka tells their story from five flawlessly realized points of view and conveys the exact emotional texture of their experience — the thin-walled barracks and barbed-wire fences, the omnipresent fear and loneliness, the unheralded feats of heroism.

When the Emperor was Divine is a work of enormous power that illustrates a part of U.S. history as immediate as today’s headlines.

Ms. Otsuka is a recipient of the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Asian American Literary Award, the American Library Association Alex Award, an Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was also a finalist for the National Book Award.

Most recently, she was awarded France’s Prix Femina foreign novel prize for her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic.

Throughout the month of April, the Greenwich community will have multiple opportunities to engage in activities centered around the book. The lineup covers a wide variety of material including first-hand accounts of internment, traditional Japanese music and crafts, as well as a panel discussion including renowned names from news and academia.

Numerous adult, children and teen book discussions will be held across Greenwich. A complete listing is available at

Books will be available for purchase and signing at each event through Diane’s Books. This series is free and open to all, but seating in the Cole Auditorium is limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis.

The author talk takes place Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30. Tickets will not be required.

Visit to find book, film and music suggestions for further exploration, as well as discussion guides, links to interviews with the author and much more.

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