cover image Talk to My Back

Talk to My Back

Yamada Murasaki, trans. from the Japanese by Ryan Holmberg. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-77046-563-3

Alt-manga pioneer Yamada’s nuanced depictions of marriage and family life make their English-language debut in this pensive collection of comics from 1981–1984. With delicate lines and solid black shapes, Yamada sketches a portrait of housewife Chiharu Yamakawa, who raises two young daughters and is treated like a servant by her husband. As her children become more independent and her husband spends even less time with the family, Chiharu takes a part-time job and eventually starts selling handmade dolls, while trying to figure out how to find contentment. This groundbreaking comic was one of the first manga to depict matrimony and motherhood from such an intimate perspective, as Yamada drew on her experiences to illuminate Chiharu’s fictional compromised domesticity. Despite Chiharu’s simmering discontent, the moments of joy and love she experiences with her children (such as looking at puddles after the rain) bring levity to the everyday events. Yamada’s art style is so overly spare that it omits even characters' faces at points, with loosely sketched gestural action. Defying conventions expected still by many manga fans, this will appeal best to manga-curious indie comics readers, especially fans of comics parenting chronicles by the likes of Keiler Roberts or Glynnis Fawkes. (July)