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When the Emperor was Divine: Home

Library resources for Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor was Divine.

When the Emperor was Divine

Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine (2003) is a sparse and brief novel (only 160 pages) aimed at young adult readers. The novel captures the experience of one Japanese American family that found itself victimized by governmental and social persecution during World War II. Not long after the husband is taken for questioning in the Pearl Harbor bombing and imprisoned for the rest of the war, the mother, father, and daughter are sent to an internment camp in Texas and then in Utah. Otsuka never provides names for the family members, who suffer for the span of their separation and incarceration. Once the war is over, the family members find themselves irreparably altered. They soon grow at odds with one another, as well as with their neighbors, who they consider complicit in the hardships faced during the war.

When the Emperor Was Divine received significant accolades upon its release and won numerous awards, including the Booklist Editor’s Choice for Young Adults, the New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age Award, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and the Asian American Literary Award.


1 Gale Literary Overviews. Detroit: Gale, 2012. From Literature Resource Center.

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ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY An annotated bibliography is a listing of the resources consulted for research purposes. An annotated bibliography is listed in alphabetical order according to author and contains the following information in this order.

i. Citation in MLA format

ii. Summary of the sources’ content (See sample below.)

Castelvecchi, D. (2008, August 30). “Carbon Tubes leave nano behind.” Science News, 174(5), Retrieved from

 This source, which describes a new, flexible lightweight material 30 times stronger than Keviar and possibly useful for better bulletproof vests, provides evidence of yet another upcoming technology that might be useful to law enforcement. This article focuses on the ways in which lighter, stronger, bulletproof materials might change SWAT tactics, for instance, enabling them to carry more gear, protect police vehicles, or to blend into crowds better.