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Author: Adrian Tomine
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
This graphic novel is short, but it packs a punch. Beautifully understated, black and white drawings accompany dry wit and a plot that will resonate with most young adults on multiple levels. Ben Tanaka and his girlfriend Miko are in the midst of relationship turmoil; Miko is fed up with Ben’s lack of enthusiasm, but also suspects that he sub-consciously diverts his attention, a little too often, toward white women.
In 108 pages, Tomine successfully delves into the intersections of race and sexuality in a realistic, humorous, and succinct way. At first glance it is a story that anyone over the age of 20 will be well acquainted with—dwindling relationships, break-ups, and new beginnings. But, the narrative is more nuanced and offers such a refreshing voice in a sea of homogeneity. The graphic novel was originally serialized in Optic Nerve, a comic book series by Tomine, but was published in its entirety in 2007. Respected by the likes of Junot Diaz, Tomine has also had work published in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Esquire.