Buddha is left in the attic. He will remain there for decades, unnoticed. Their neighbors noticed their disappearance and asked questions, but soon normalized their absence and accepted the reasons fed to them.
They came for many reasons. The common thread of their experience was their disappointment at seeing their husbands when they disembarked. Photographs had not lied in likeness, but in time. Older men, less fortunate men, met them at the shoreline. They took them that night in a passage that will haunt me forever.
They bear their children in the fields. They lose their children in the fields. They clean other women’s homes. They sleep with other women’s husbands.
The voice of the Japanese women in Otsuka’s novel is one and many. They feel the same differently. The audio is particularly moving when the accented voice disappears, like the women into the internment camps, and the narration is taken over by a voice that sounds painfully white. This novel is prose and poetry, beautiful and awful.