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Greenwich Reads Together

Greenwich Reads Together
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When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka has been chosen for Greenwich Reads Together 2013. Two thematically related companion books for younger readers were also announced. Greenwich Reads Together (GRT) is a community-wide reading experience which will engage all of Greenwich in exploring a single book. Greenwich Reads Together will take place between April 22 and May 3.

When the Emperor Was DivineOn a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, 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.

Julie Otsuka, photo by Robert BessoirIn this lean and devastatingly evocative novel, Julie 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 makes a shameful episode of our history as immediate as today's headlines.

Author Julie Otsuka is a recipient of the Asian American Literary Award, the American Library Association Alex Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and, most recently, she was awarded Frances Femina Foreign Novel prize. Her book The Buddha in the Attic won the PEN/ Faulkner Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Two companion books for younger readers were also announced: Best Friends Forever: a WWII Scrapbook by Beverly Patt, and The Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury.

Besides the traditional print format, When the Emperor was Divine is available in eBook and downloadable audio format via Greenwich Library's Overdrive digital book service. It's also available in CD Audiobook and in Japanese.

They may also be purchased at local bookstores including Diane's Books.

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Discussion Guide

Programs and Discussion Groups flyerPrograms and Discussion Groups
Click here to read
the 2013 Program Brochure, which includes a schedule of events and discussion groups for children, teens and adults.

School Programs flierSchool Programs
Click here to see what's planned
for Greenwich Reads Together in the Greenwich Public Schools.

For GHS Events, click here.

essay contest flyerEssay Contest
Click here for details
on the 2013 Greenwich Reads Together Essay Contest, open to students in grades 6-12. Two cash prizes of $250 were awarded at the GRT closing event. Here you may read the winning and honorable mention essays:

Lead Sponsor

Wiggin and Dana


Connecticut Center For The Book    Greenwich Library    Friends of Greenwich Library

Greenwich Rotary    Whole Foods, Greenwich

Dr. Laura and Mr. Robert Glanville

Supporting Organizations

  • Christ Church of Greenwich
  • First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich
  • The Friends of Byram Shubert Library
  • The Friends of Cos Cob Library
  • The Friends of Greenwich Library
  • Greenwich Academy
  • Greenwich Alliance for Education
  • Greenwich Arts Council
  • Greenwich Historical Society
  • Greenwich Independent Schools
  • Greenwich Library
  • Greenwich Library Board of Trustees
  • Greenwich Pen Women
  • Greenwich Public Schools
  • Greenwich Rotary Club
  • Retired Men's Association
  • Temple Sholom

When the Emperor Was Divine Links

Also by Julie Otsuka




Online Resources


Selected Further Reading

Click here for a bibliography of Japanese music
materials at Greenwich Library

Click here for a bibliography of Children's nonfiction and fiction
materials at Greenwich Library

Click here for a bibliography of films
at Greenwich Library

About Greenwich Reads Together

The inaugural Greenwich Reads Together selection was Markus Zusaks groundbreaking novel, The Book Thief. The 2012 selection was Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. Last spring, almost 20 community organizations participated in Greenwich Reads Together, and more than 3,000 Greenwich residents participated in events, including a live Skype telecast with author Dave Eggers. Additional programs featured celebrated artists from literature, jazz, and photography, as well as renowned names from national news and government. Numerous adult, children and teen book discussions were held across Greenwich.

For more information:

Previous Greenwich Reads Together Events


Dave Eggers

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The Book ThiefThe Book Thief
Markus Zusak

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mp4         mp3