14 Dec / Barefoot Gen: Breaking Down Borders (vol. 9) by Keiji Nakazawa, translated by Project Gen
Hiroshima survivor Keiji Nakazawa’s graphic testimony continues in the penultimate volume of the heart-wrenching Barefoot Gen series, finally available in an unabridged English translation of all 10 volumes from San Francisco’s renegade publisher Last Gasp. Alone and newly homeless, Nakazawa’s fictionalized stand-in, Gen Nakaoka, moves in with his motley group of survivor friends, together creating a family bound together by both tragedy and promise.
Natsue prepares for her own death by creating the perfect jar for her ashes which Gen purposefully breaks in hopes of keeping her alive a little longer. But the sheer will of her friends cannot help the ailing Natsue and she quickly succumbs. In the midst of chasing a would-be robber during her memorial, Gen meets an older, caring artist who proves to be the perfect mentor in Gen’s promising new job with a sign-painting company.
In spite of all the horrors he has faced in his young life, Gen is filled with hope as he looks on at a beautiful rainbow, “thinking how wonderful it would be if he could build beautiful rainbow bridges from country to country, in a world without borders … a peaceful world free of war, where people cross freely over those rainbow bridges and talk to each other as friends …”
More than half a century later, war still remains too much a part of our everyday vocabulary. Bringing Barefoot Gen back onto bookshelves everywhere is certainly a necessary reminder for peace, most especially for the sake of all our world’s children.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2009 (United States)