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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Reader's Diary #1681- Nagata Kabi, translated by Jocelynne Allen: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

Not sure how Nagata Kabi's My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness first crossed my radar, but I'm glad it did.

It begins with Nagata finding herself terrified and in bed with a female prostitute. This is her first time being intimate with anyone. From there the book backtracks to explore how she got there and then the ramifications that followed.

While the title might suggest a focus on the "lesbian" aspect, I'd argue that the book is more about mental health than anything else. It's not just loneliness that's explored, but depression, eating disorders, and imposter syndrome as well.

It's not a comfortable read by any means. For starters, and for me, the way Nagata depicts herself in her art, somewhat deprecatingly, she looks to be a young girl. And as a male reading a book with a naked young girl on the cover, it's something I avoided in public. I should note, however, that in that scene she's actually meant to be 28 years old.

But of course some of the issues are difficult as well and everyone's experiences with mental health and illness is unique. How easily she seems to beat bulimia might seem almost implausible. Her attraction toward her mother as a young girl may be off-putting, though it is rather Freudian and I'd like to think was one of the few times in the book Nagata didn't explain herself well.

That all said, there is a charm to it all and the subtle, dark humour helped me along. I also appreciated the non-sitcom ending: it's hopeful but far from resolved.

The art, while not spectacular, is quirky and sufficiently expressive.

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