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This checks so many boxes in my "favorite reads" category. An independent, queer protagonist. Reinvention of death mythologies. Adorable little puffball sidekicks. Evocative black and white illustrations that fit the story perfectly. I'm so glad to be introduced to these two fabulous creators.
Stacey— From Shadow Life
Poet and novelist Hiromi Goto effortlessly blends wry, observational slice-of-life literary fiction with poetic magical realism in the tender and surprising graphic novel Shadow Life, with haunting art from debut artist Ann Xu.
When Kumiko’s well-meaning adult daughters place her in an assisted living home, the seventy-six-year-old widow gives it a try, but it’s not where she wants to be. She goes on the lam and finds a cozy bachelor apartment, keeping the location secret even while communicating online with her eldest daughter. Kumiko revels in the small, daily pleasures: decorating as she pleases, eating what she wants, and swimming in the community pool. But something has followed her from her former residence—Death’s shadow.
Kumiko’s sweet life is shattered when Death’s shadow swoops in to collect her. With her quick mind and sense of humor, Kumiko, with the help of friends new and old, is prepared for the fight of her life. But how long can an old woman thwart fate?
"Sprinkled with fabulism (a vacuum and salt can stop death), confronting racist history (Canada’s WWII prison camps for Japanese Canadians), and questioning institutionalized eldercare, Goto’s latest is an empowering, emotional tribute to defiant, independent, kick-ass old women living their best lives."—Booklist, starred review
"The loose black-and-white line art by Xu, including interspersed wordless panels, perfectly captures the progression of Kumiko’s emotions from serenity to revelation to distress to determined defiance, as well as the narrative’s fantastical and surreal turns. Quiet sensitivity and humor shine throughout, lighting the bright triumph in one woman’s twilight."—Publishers Weekly, starred review