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Okinawa Longlisted for Carnegie Medal
A round up of some of the recent amazing press that Susumu Higa's "Okinawa" has received.
Hi everyone, Christopher here. It’s been a little over 2 months since the first MSX: Mangasplaining Extra collaborative project was published, with Fantagraphics’ gorgeous edition of Okinawa by Susumu Higa now available everywhere. The title has continued to receive some incredible accolades, and we wanted to take a second to share them with you here on Substack, because frankly, Substack, our readers, and my amazing friends Chip, Deb, and David helped push the production of the book forward immensely. We already did one of these round-ups you can check out if, for whatever reason you can’t get enough of reading positive reviews (I personally cannot). Or maybe you just want to click one of these buttons and buy a copy? That’s okay too.
The first big news is that Okinawa has been nominated for the 2024 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in NonFiction, an incredibly prestigious award administered by the American Library Association.
It’s so incredible that we’ve been nominated for this award, and we’re so very proud. I’m thrilled to see that we’re listed alongside Darrin Bell’s The Talk! I think this might be the first year that two graphic novels have been nominated for this award. :) Between The Talk, and seeing Kate Beaton’s Ducks nominated in 2023, and The Waiting by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim in 2022, I know we’re in very good company. We’ll find out on November 14th if we made the shortlist or not. Fingers crossed, and good luck to all of the books longlisted!
Also since our last talk, here on Mangasplaining we posted a massive interview with Okinawa translator Jocelyne Allen, and book editor Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, on the title and how it all came together. I have to assume that, on some level, if you are reading these words you are also listening to at least some episodes of the podcast? But if not, this is a pretty good episode to jump in on. :)
And here’s a few incredible reviews we’ve received:
Shelf Awareness, Starred Review - “Higa's engrossing black-and-white panels are testimony to little-known (especially in the West) history and a universal reminder of war's unfinished consequences.”
PopCultHQ, 5/5 Stars - “Higa takes the time to showcase the ripple effects that have altered the island’s history over the decades, opening a window into a world for those who have perhaps never thought about the history of Okinawa.”
BlogCritics - “An endearing and enduring collection.”
ICv2 2023 Manga Gift Guide - “With its unusual cover design, this chunky, 544-page hardcover also just looks good on the shelf.”
League of Comic Geeks - “Okinawa is a harrowing document of war, but it is also a work which addresses the dreams and the needs of a people as they go forward into an uncertain future, making it essential reading for anyone interested in World War II and its effects on our lives today, as well as anyone with an interest in the people and culture of this fascinating, complicated place.”
Asian Review of Books - “In a sense, it’s a rare treat for English-language readers to have access to Higa’s work at all… The first full-length, stand-alone novel by an Okinawan writer wasn’t published in English until 2017…”
We also got this surprisingly in-depth video review of Okinawa by Living The Line, a new small press manga publisher with a forthcoming manga line of their own. Really interesting, and reviews of lots of really good books (manga and otherwise) on their channel.
In a very surprising move, we were contacted by Stars and Stripes, the official (though independent) newspaper of the U.S. Military, about doing an article on Higa-san and the book. Higa agreed to an interview, and the resulting interview is now online.
I think journalists Matthew M. Burke and Keishi Koja did a great job, given the severe space limitations that were placed on them. I know that both Higa and myself & Andrew gave a lot more info than they used there, so I certainly hope more of those interviews surface someday.
Also in the news roundup, we got some interesting coverage for my mention that Okinawa had to change printers due to censorship concerns in China from the printers. Thanks to The Beat, Otaku USA, Anime News Network, ICv2, and others for covering the story. I was surprised that it became a story though? Working in publishing, there is definitely pushback happening like this all the time around content. While political or religious content objections are certainly less rare than, say, printers refusing to print adult material, it’s still more common than you’d think.
Finally, I wanted to thank my buddy Chip Zdarsky for this lovely and heartfelt shout-out in his newsletter. Like I said up top, a bunch of people helped make Okinawa a success, but Chip is one of the unsung heroes (I think he likes it that way?) who helped nudge this book over the finish line. Love you buddy.
So yeah, that’s where things are at. The book is out and people seemed to really like it and that’s tremendously gratifying for something we all worked on for a long, long time. I think I’ll do a longer round-up of the book after Christmas, all the little bits and bobs and behind-the-sceneses and things. But for now: Hey the book is out! Thank you for reading it, thank you for your support!
P.S.: We’re actually still keeping 2 chapters of Okinawa up online and free to read in perpetuity, so if you want to give it a preview before ordering your copy (heh) you can go read Chapter 1: Sword of Sand [Link] & Chapter 8: Military Landlord [Link]. We also printed Shinako Oyakawa’s essay that appeared in the book here, and even ran a brand-new comic by Higa-san, The Body Tree.
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