Friday, September 16, 2011
Book Review - The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography
While almost everybody has heard of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, and can undoubtedly spot his smiling face in a crowd, many have only a general idea of his beliefs, and fewer know how he came to be the revered figure of Tibetan Buddhism. In THE 14TH DALAI LAMA: A Manga Biography (Penguin Paperback; ISBN: 978-0-14-311815-2; On-Sale: September 28, 2010; $15.00), Tetsu Saiwai, a manga artist from Japan, entertains readers with creative storytelling and brings the world-renown spiritual leader’s life further into focus.
THE 14TH DALAI LAMA: A Manga Biography begins with the passing of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and the Reting Rinpoche, the official selector of his successor, announcing that he’d received a message. His vision brings a delegation to the small village of Taktser in northeastern Tibet, the home of Tenzin Gyatso—just two years old at the time. After a series of tests to prove that the boy is the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, it is announced that Tenzin is in fact the new leader of the religious community.
While “Free Tibet” demonstrations often grace the pages of newspapers, and mentions of bristling Chinese officials make their way into the political dialogue when the Dalai Lama meets with a US President, few are aware of the history surrounding these tensions. THE 14TH DALAI LAMA shows how life within the Tibetan community became unsettled in 1950 when China invaded Tibet and how, at the age of sixteen and still facing nine more years of intensive religious education, the Dalai Lama assumed full political power. In March of 1959, during the national uprising of the Tibetan people against Chinese military occupation, the Dalai Lama went into exile, a separation that continues to this day.
In THE 14TH DALAI LAMA, Tetsu Saiwai, known for bringing educational topics this popular art form, illustrates the Dalai Lama’s efforts to open dialogue with the Chinese. In 1987, he proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan, a plan that would stabilize the entire Asian region and which has drawn widespread praise from statesmen and legislative bodies around the world, but the Chinese have yet to enter into negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, unlike his predecessors who never came to the West, continues his world-wide travels, eloquently speaking in favor of ecumenical understanding, kindness and compassion, respect for the environment and, above all, world peace. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his efforts.
TETSU SAIWAI is a manga artist from Japan. Throughout his career spanning over twenty years, he has published a number of educational mangas with regards to environmental protections and human rights issues. Aside from mangas, he is a passionate puppeteer, and plans to open a puppet troupe to advocate similar and important themes for humanity. Tetsu lives in the beautiful countryside of Western Japan with his wife and dogs.
My Take on the Book
This was a great way to learn about a great person. So often you have to slog through biographies and I know that most young people will not take the time to do this. But by placing this story in the style of a graphic novel they have opened the world to younger audiences to broaden their minds and ideas about people and places.
The story itself is engaging and allows for the reader to truly get a sense about the boy and man that became the 14th Dalai Lama. It also talks about a time in Tibetan history that was strewn with many challenges and this book does a good job at covering this for the reader.
This book will open the eyes of all readers to the Tibetan people and their struggles and I have to commend the author for taking on this challenge!
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