- Series: Utsubora
- Paperback: 460 pages
- Publisher: Vertical (June 18, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1935654764
- ISBN-13: 978-1935654766
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.9 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Utsubora: The Story of a Novelist Paperback – June 18, 2013
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"Nakamura has created something tense and relentlessly worthwhile. It’s Mature rating will make it a hard sell in a lot of markets, but it’s a valuable book that merits the time readers will put into it. And that’s the great thing. When I first presumed Utsubora to be some sort of lip-service homage to Murakami, I was only seeing plot points and thriller tropes. I thought Nakamura’s book would merely be an amusing ride. Summer reading, something to lounge with poolside. But just as Murakami masks deeper examinations of culture and identity in his novels, so too does Nakamura.”
—Good Ok Bad
"Utsubora: The Story of a Novelist is a visually striking puzzle of a story playing with parallelism...[It] is one of those works that can be read at different points in your life with different interpretations, given its narrative unreliability. This time, I found it about the disillusionment of our idols, and it spurred thoughts on what creativity really means.”
—Comics Worth Reading
"If Satoshi Kon were alive today, he might have been interested in adapting Utsubora, a psychological mystery-drama that blurs the lines between fiction and reality... Asumiko Nakamura's delicate art is perfect for the moments that take place in the characters' heads (and between their bodies); the fusion between real-world elements and abstract lines creates a dreamy otherworld. Even the character designs make a statement about the story: Mizorogi is the old-school, traditionally dressed intellectual, while Fujino is almost unrealistically beautiful. Those little details—along with the big picture—result in a story that's provocative in many ways.”
—Anime News Network
About the Author
Born in 1979, Asumiko Nakamura is one of Japan's hidden gems. The artist has penned more than 15 titles since 2002 and has reached critical acclaim for her sensitive protrayals of romantic narratives featuring a wide range of characters - men and women, young and old. Nakamura has worked in a range of genres for an equally broad range of audinces winning recognition in almost every category - shojo, women's comics, men's comics, LGBT fiction as well as erotic fiction. Utsubora is her English language debut.
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Top customer reviews
In a nutshell, Utsubora is a story about an author who does the unthinkable, the repercussions of his actions, and the eventual reveal of his motivations. To say more would spoil you and I'd hate to do that-- suffice it to say that nothing and no one are who they seem.
Four stars because the translation needed one more pass by an editor (for example, 'snucked' is not a word), but it's otherwise good. Also, when you read the notes at the end you realize that a lot of little winks and nods and cleverness is missed. The title, for example-- throughout the novel it's referred to as 'Utsubora' but translated into English it is a very obvious reference to one of the characters. Not sure why the translators chose to overlook that, other than that Utsubora 'rolls off the tongue' (eyes?) more easily? I enjoyed one particular 'scene' that was nothing more than two characters eating a meal and chatting-- the names of the dishes being rattled off must sound beautiful in Japanese but most readers might not know what is fish and what is fowl. Regardless I enjoyed it. I used to live in Japan and miss the food very much.
Nakamura's work is very reminiscent of art noveau style tinged with Al Hirshfeld in terms of the lines and languid forms. There's sex. Occasionally I had to really stare at the page to figure out what I was seeing because the mangaka did a lot of 'close shots' and not all were immediately recognizable. Still, really like her work so not such a hardship!
When I first came across this book, I knew nothing about it nor its author, Asumiko Nakamura. The cover art alone intrigued me enough to want to pick it up, and I'm glad I did. The art on the inside was off-putting to me at first because because the characters, especially the male ones, looked like typical Yaoi or Shonen Ai character designs. Which means that they may be shown to sometimes have unusual, broad shoulders, be incredibly handsome in the face, or suffer from Yaoi basketball hands. The male characters may have some visual tropes from those more erotic comics but the women are also drawn very beautifully. With that said, it would be really unfair to judge this book by character design preferences because there are a lot of good things going for this book.
As the title of the book implies, Utsubora is the story of a novelist. The main focus of the story is about an author and what happens to him when he succumbs to the lows of plagiarism. Filled with mystery, drama, and sensuality, Utsubora is a fun read. In the end, Utsubora is also a smart book that will have you guessing what exactly is going on with the cast of characters in the book.
At the end of the book, there are some extras. Including an Illustration Story and Translator Notes. I really appreciated the translator's notes segment because it included interesting, informative cultural facts of things seen in the story and its the closest you can get for having commentary for a book. I feel this really adds to the cultural understanding of modern Japan.
Utsubora is Asumiko Nakamura's first book published in English, and I enjoyed the book enough that I would definitely pick up another book by her if it were ever published.
Recently released in North America in a single, thick volume by Vertical Inc, Utsubora is definitely worth checking out.
I've only been able to read her work through scanlations but to actually have a gorgeous work of her's in my possession is truly grand! I really hope there are more English translations of her work to buy, because I would buy them right away! (please start with the Boy's Love and Erotic books that she has, those are really lovely)
Anyways, some of the reviews I've seen made me doubt about getting this book. One even said they didn't know it was a manga! And I'm just wondering how that could even happen because Nakamura has done so many different kinds of Manga to not know what to expect. She has so many genres, like what type hasn't she done yet?
The story in itself was a little slow but don't let it fool you!
It's like it takes you on a steady waltz and then in one slow, silent step it stabs you with realization.
I can't really give any more than what it tells you in the book description but it makes more sense to read it than to read the description. And another thing is that it kept me on my toes and I had no idea about the ending twist until it just... Happened.
I would recommend this if you love something along the lines of: psychological, mystery, anxiety, and romance of the twisted kind. Twisted as in it's all kinds of ... mixed up in the head.
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