So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Barefoot Gen Volume Seven: Bones Into Dust

Barefoot Gen Volume Seven: Bones Into Dust by Keiji Nakazawa

The Barefoot Gen series of 10 graphic novels tells the story of the World War II atomic bombing of Hiroshima Japan through the eyes of a young boy Gen Nakaoka who relates the events lived through by the author Keiji Nakazawa. Book 7, Bones Into Dust takes place more than three years after the war has officially ended. Gen's father, sister and brother were killed during the blast, and his mother now suffers from radiation sickness. Gen's older brother Koji has left to work in a coal mine to earn money for the family, leaving Gen and his younger brother Akira to care for their sick mother and find food and medical care. Gen has befriended an older man and a group of street orphans who develop scheme after scheme to find food, raise money, or steal what they need. The old man has written a novel called The End of Summer about the atomic bomb and its effects on Hiroshima that he wants to have published before he dies of radiation sickness.
The book opens with the orphans devising a plan to get the book published. When all the regular publishers have turned them down because they fear reprisal from the Americans, Ryuta, one of the orphans, suggests asking the prison print shop to print the books. All they need to do is find the money to buy the paper for the printing. Finding the money is a challenge that they solve. Once they have the book published and are distributing it, they are picked up by the local police and taken to a U.S. military base for interrogation.
Meanwhile Gen's mother continues to decline from her bomb-induced radiation sickness, and Gen's older brother Koji, now a depressed alcoholic, returns from the mines. The last section of the book reunites the family as the boys try to make Gen's mother happy in her last days. The subtitle Bones Into Dust refers to the cremation remains of Gen's mother as the family deals with yet another loss.


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