Turning Japanese: Expanded Edition (Hardcover)
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"A vulnerable, searching, raw record." — Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
The year is 1995. Fresh out of a long-term relationship, twenty-two-year old MariNaomi finds herself in San Jose, California. Mari, a mixed-race Japanese American, has for many years felt disconnected from the culture of her mother. Immersed in the pan-asian diaspora of San Jose, Mari searches for cultural and romantic connections.
It doesn't take long for Mari to find new loves, and a new job—at a hostess bar for Japanese expats—in a bid to learn the Japanese language and culture. Turning Japanese moves as Mari does, from San Jose to Tokyo, as she tries to get by in an unfamiliar city with rudimentary language skills—all in the hopes of finally connecting with her Japanese relatives without the use of her mother as a translator.
Turning Japanese: Expanded Edition includes new story pages that bring fresh insight and a new resolution to this classic comics memoir of our times.
About the Author
MariNaomi (she/they) is the award-winning author and illustrator of Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22 (Harper Perennial, 2011), Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories (2dcloud/Uncivilized Books, 2014), Turning Japanese (2dcloud, 2016), I Thought YOU Hated ME (Retrofit Comics, 2016), the Life on Earth trilogy (Graphic Universe, 2018-2020), and Dirty Produce (Workman Publishing, Nov. 2021). Their work has appeared in over eighty print publications and has been featured on websites such as The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, The Rumpus, LA Review of Books, Midnight Breakfast and BuzzFeed, and has been translated into French (Devenir Japonaise, Editions IMHO, Feb. 2021) and Russian.
MariNaomi’s comics and paintings have been featured in the Smithsonian, the de Young Museum, the Cartoon Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum, and the Japanese American Museum.
In 2011 and 2018, Mari toured with the literary roadshow Sister Spit. They are the founder and administrator of the Cartoonists of Color Database, the Queer Cartoonists Database, and the Disabled Cartoonists Database. They have taught classes for the California College of the Arts Comics MFA program, and was a guest editor for PEN Illustrated. They were cohost of the Ask Bi Grlz podcast with author Myriam Gurba.
MariNaomi lives in Southern California with their spouse and a menagerie of rescue cats, dogs, and butterfly babies.
"This book has something of [a balming] effect in its exploration of the many complexities of identity and romance."
— Publishers Weekly
"Sure to resonate most strongly with females facing similar challenges of young adulthood."
"In Turning Japanese, Mari’s unflinching honesty, open heart, and hard-earned wisdom challenges us to embrace the unexpected detours that unfold in our own lives."
— Yumi Sakugawa, Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One With the Universe