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The Autobiography of Barefoot Gen

Nakazawa Keiji - Translated by Richard H. Minear

This compelling autobiography tells the life story of famed manga artist Nakazawa Keiji. Born in Hiroshima in 1939, Nakazawa was six years old when on August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb. His gritty and stunning account of the horrific aftermath is powerfully told through the eyes of a child who lost most of his family and neighbors. In eminently readable and beautifully translated prose, the narrative continues through the brutally difficult years immediately after the war, his art apprenticeship in Tokyo, his pioneering "atomic-bomb" manga, and the creation of Barefoot Gen, the classic graphic novel based on Nakazawa's experiences before, during, and after the bomb.

This first English-language translation of Nakazawa's autobiography includes twenty pages of excerpts from
Barefoot Gen to give readers who don't know the manga a taste of its power and scope. A recent interview with the author brings his life up to the present. His trenchant hostility to Japanese imperialism, the emperor and the emperor system, and U.S. policy adds important nuance to the debate over Hiroshima. Despite the grimness of his early life, Nakazawa never succumbs to pessimism or defeatism. His trademark optimism and activism shine through in this inspirational work.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 216Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-1-4422-0747-9 • Hardback • December 2010 • $44.00 • (£29.95) - Currently out of stock. Copies will arrive soon.
978-1-4422-0748-6 • Paperback • July 2015 • $27.00 • (£17.95)
978-1-4422-0749-3 • eBook • November 2010 • $36.99 • (£24.95)
Series: Asian Voices
Nakazawa Keiji (March 14, 1939–December 19, 2012) was the creator of Barefoot Gen, one of the most storied manga of all time, which recounts the experiences of his alter ego, Gen, before and after August 6, 1945.

A leading translator of classics of Hiroshima literature,
Richard H. Minear is professor of history emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Translator's Introduction
Author's Introduction: The Dropping of the Atomic Bomb, "Gen," and I
Chapter 1: Prelude to Tragedy
Chapter 2: A Sudden Flash of Light
Chapter 3: Terror
Chapter 4: To Live
Chapter 5: I Set Out
Chapter 6: Gen and I, Together
Appendix: Interview with Nakazawa Keiji
In his moving autobiography, Nakazawa recounts how he transformed his experiences into the adventures of his alter-ego Nakaoka Gen.
Los Angeles Times

We can find a lot to be thankful for in Nakazawa Keiji's works like Hiroshima and Barefoot Gen, which are redemptive tales of striving for peace as well as tales of anger at the follies of governments and those in power. I for one am thankful that Nakazawa fell in love with comics and decided to become a manga artist.
Anime News Network

[Hiroshima] is the pioneering atomic bomb manga, based on Nakazawa's account of his own surviving the atomic bomb. . . .Without doubt Nakazawa's Hiroshima is a book of great importance and significance. The book deals with an important chapter of modern history, which should not be forgotten. . . .The book also provides insight into the world of manga and it shows how manga has become [an] integrated part of today's society and culture.
Peace and Justice Studies

It might seem odd that a comic book could teach us so much about the unspeakable, but that is what Barefoot Gen does, in an inspiring way. Hiroshima: The Autobiography of Barefoot Gen is the equally gripping but true story of A-bomb survivor and artist, Nakazawa Keiji, and how his now-classic manga, or comic book, came to be. Read it, and never forget.
Frederik L. Schodt, author of Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics

Barefoot Gen eloquently depicts the experience of surviving an atomic bomb, deriving its power from the individuality of its characters and its emotional honesty. Richard Minear introduces us here to Gen as an adult, revealing the process by which Nakazawa Keiji decided to tell his story—when no one wanted to hear it. Nakazawa inherited his father's outrage at hypocrisy, and the manga is primarily a eulogy to his father and little brother. But this version of his life story shows that Nakazawa owes his bravery to his mother, who suffered for many years after 1945 from both long-term radiation sickness and the casual cruelty of unsympathetic relatives.
Laura Hein, Northwestern University

Praise for Nakazawa Keiji's Barefoot Gen:

Some of the best comics ever done.

R. Crumb, artist and illustrator

Praise for Nakazawa Keiji's Barefoot Gen:

Gen haunts me. [It] effectively bears witness to one of the central horrors of our time. Give yourself over to . . . this extraordinary book.

Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus