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Fallen Wordsby Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Synopses & Reviews
A NEW COLECTION OF STORIES FROM THE FOREFATHER OF THE JAPANESE LITERARY COMICS MOVEMENT
In Fallen Words, Yoshihiro Tatsumi takes up the oral tradition of rakugo and breathes new life into it by shifting the format from spoken word to manga. Each of the eight stories in the collection is lifted from the Edo-era Japanese storytelling form. As Tatsumi notes in the afterword, the world of rakugo, filled with mystery, emotion, revenge, hope, and, of course, love, overlaps perfectly with the world of Gekiga that he has spent the better part of his life developing.
These slice-of-life stories resonate with modern readers thanks to their comedic elements and familiarity with human idiosyncrasies. In one, a father finds his son too bookish and arranges for two workers to take the young man to a brothel on the pretext of visiting a new shrine. In another particularly beloved rakugo tale, a married man falls in love with a prostitute. When his wife finds out, she is enraged and sets a curse on the other woman. The prostitute responds by cursing the wife, and the two escalate in a spiral of voodoo doll cursing. Soon both are dead, but even death cant extinguish their jealousy.
Tatsumis love of wordplay shines through in the telling of these whimsical stories, and yet he still offers timeless insight into human nature.
"With each of the eight short stories in Fallen Words, Tatsumi (A Drifting Life, Abandon the Old in Tokyo) shows us the innovation and insight that make him one of the most relevant figures in Japanese comics today. In this work he draws upon the storytelling tradition of rakugo — in which a live storyteller recounts both sides of a conversation — and provides a series of cautionary tales about day-to-day hopes, fears, and petty excesses. What makes these moral fables so enjoyable to read is the humor that the author brings to them; readers can relate to his characters, sympathize with them, and enjoy a chuckle or two as Tatsumi exposes their delightful fallibility. He also elicits a smile in the way he brings about the resolutions to his fables, whether through a quirk of fate (in 'The God of Death') or through a humorous linguistic association (in 'Escape of the Sparrows'). As the artist who coined the term gekiga ('dramatic pictures'), but was nonetheless influenced by mainstream manga, Tatsumi's flat yet expressive drawings always move these short narratives forward without ever feeling unnecessarily distracted by the visual — the results flow as naturally as a rakugo tale. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Born in 1935, Yoshihiro Tatsumi began writing and drawing comics for a sophisticated adult readership in a realistic style he called Gekiga. He has influenced generations of cartoonists and lives in Japan.
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