A Drifting Life
By Yoshihiro Tatsumi
856 Pages, Softcover, $29.99/$39.99
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

I have no doubt that much will be written about this book when it is officially released this spring. There’s a deceptive density to A Drifting Life, Tatsumi Yoshihiro’s arms’ length autobiography. It’s a story told very directly, switching between the first and third person to describe a young man’s passion and struggle, set against a larger picture of a nation looking to rebuild after World War II.  The 800+ pages of the book read quickly, but the ideas expressed are potent and the history chronicled Important (and largely unkown); the effect of completing the book is disorienting. At one point I flipped to the back looking for footnotes to try and match my own understanding of the origins of Japanese comics to the incredible amount of information Tatsumi dolls out in a few key chapters (though the entire birth of the manga industry, and Tatsumi’s own Gekiga can be found in these pages) (about the footnotes: there are none). At its heart A Drifting Life is a memoir, filled with a density of details to give it a setting and place that will be immediately familiar to Japanese readers of the last generation but that will largely evade North American ones. This is not a bad thing, if anything the unfamiliarity of the time and place of this story will add to the experience of the lead drifting through his life, tied only to the comic that I hope you’ll be holding in your hands.

- Christopher
Yoshihiro Tatsumi will be a Guest of Honour at the 2009 Toronto Comic Arts Festival, of which I am the Festival Director.

9 Comments on “A Drifting Life, By Yoshihiro Tatsumi”

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  1. Ab. says:

    Sounds fantastic, Chris.

  2. MangaBlog » Blog Archive » Monday morning roundup says:

    [...] not been published over here. Christopher Butcher takes a brief look at Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life at Comics212. Other reviews worth [...]

  3. Miles says:

    I’m really excited to see what a long-form narrative from Tatsumi will be like. His short stories are really good.

  4. robin says:

    I have a copy and am nervous about reading it. I know its gonna be great. But once its done, its done and i will be sad.

  5. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » March 10, 2009: Atomic war! says:

    [...] [Review] A Drifting Life Link: Christopher Butcher [...]

  6. Greg McElhatton says:

    I’m 80 pages into it now and yeah, this is some seriously great stuff. There’s something about Tatsumi’s writing and art that is already really plunging me fully into the time period. So, so good.

  7. Adrift…with Yoshihiro Tatsumi « boiled egg says:

    [...] Yoshihiro Tatsumi Filed under: thoughts on comics — genuinearticle @ 3:18 am Thanks to Chris Butcher, I think we’re all adequately strung-out on anticipation over Tatsumi’s 800 page [...]

  8. Sleep Is For the Weak » Blog Archive » TCAF and Dark Servitude says:

    [...] come to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival next weekend, Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Bryan Lee O’Malley are going to be there as well as about a billion other people who are [...]

  9. Jerry Gusha says:

    We are trying to find out where to obtain a copy of A DRIFTING LIFE in Japanese for a customer. Can you give us any help?

    Williams’ Book Store

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