Thursday, December 22, 2011

REVIEW: The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography, by Tetsu Saiwai

The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography, by Tetsu Saiwai. Published 2011 by Penguin. Graphica. Nonfiction. Biography.

Of the three books in Penguin's manga biography series, The 14th Dalai Lama is definitely my favorite and the one that ignited the most interest in its subject in me. Tenzin Gyatso was recognized at the age of 2 as the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion; he was whisked away from his village and brought up to be the spiritual leader of a religion and the political leader of the nation of Tibet. Then the Chinese invaded, and everything changed.

This little book does a very nice job of providing a rough outline of the Dalai Lama's early years and the events leading up to his departure from Tibet to India. I can't say the book offers a lot of detail but the reader will get a taste of the whats and the whys surrounding the takeover of Tibet, His Holiness's relationship with Mao and the roles of other Tibetan leaders, particularly the Panchen Lama. For me it was absolutely fascinating to learn more about the events that formed the basis of problems that exist in the world today. I mean, in my neighborhood you can see a Free Tibet protest almost any weekend night. I've always wanted to know more but never knew where to start.

And this book is a fine start, but it's just a start. It's definitely whet my appetite for more, though, and I've already put one book aside, the Dalai Lama's autobiography Freedom in Exile. This book is also my favorite visually; Saiwai does a really nice job bringing the story alive through the varied, expressive artwork. I'd recommend The 14th Dalai Lama for teens or anyone wishing to learn the ABCs of this important figure on the world stage, one whose story isn't over yet.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Penguin.


Col (Col Reads) said...

My daughter has just begun to love manga. I'll keep this series in mind for when she's a bit older.

bermudaonion said...

I think good books do just that - whet our appetites for more. Since I know very little about the Dalai Lama, this book sounds interesting to me.

Sandy Nawrot said...

One of my new year goals is to read more graphic novels, and these are on my list thanks to you. I need to do some shopping!

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

spotted at 2 to be the reincarnation of a Buddha.

I've strong interest in Eastern mysticism, though I've never every brought that to fruition except for some few years in my preteens when together with my parents we practiced Buddhism.

R. J. said...

Interesting read I suspect, but I better stay out commenting on politics and religion.

Zibilee said...

Out of all the new manga biographies, this is the one that intrigues me the most. I am so glad that you loved it, and seeing that I know so little about the Dalai Lama, I think this would be the prefect starting point for me. Great review today, Marie!

Kathleen said...

This is a part of history that I know next to nothing about and I know that is really, really unacceptable. This graphic novel sounds like a good way to lay the groundwork to reading more about Tibet and the Dalai Lama.

Eva said...

This makes me curious! Maybe it's a manga I can get into. :)

I really enjoyed Pico Iyer's book about the Dalai Lama; I think it's called The Open Road.