The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography

Tetsu Saiwai, Penguin, $15 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-14-311815-2
It would perhaps be asking too much for a biography of the 14th Dalai Lama, divinely appointed leader of Tibet, to treat its subject with a skeptical eye, particularly when it's obviously being written from a teach-the-children perspective. Any sense of skeptical inquiry is resolutely not what writer/illustrator Saiwai (an educational Manga artist and puppeteer) is up to in this brisk and action-packed overview of the Dalai Lama's life. Starting in calamity in 1939 with the passing of the 13th Dalai Lama and the locating of his reincarnation in two-year-old Tenzin Gyatso, Saiwai moves quickly through the major signposts of Tenzin's life. Drama is cranked to the max, with bellowing mouths and frequent exclamations of rage or despair as the ancient mountain kingdom of Tibet falls to the crushing dictatorial oppression of Mao's China. Eventually it is revealed that the story is styled mostly as an autobiographical speech delivered by Tenzin to an adoring multinational crowd. While Tenzin's life is inarguably one of great faith, determination, and generosity, Tetsu's lack of perspective ultimately works to flatten, not enhance, the story. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 12/13/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-101-46440-3
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