The Man Without Talent


Product Details

$24.95  $22.95
New York Review Comics
Publish Date
5.8 X 8.2 X 0.7 inches | 0.7 pounds

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About the Author

Yoshiharu Tsuge is a cartoonist and essayist known best for his surrealistic, avant-garde work. Tsuge began drawing comics in 1955, working primarily in the rental comics industry that was popular in impoverished post-war Japan. In the 1960s, Tsuge was discovered by the publishers of the avante garde comics magazine Garo and he gained increasing recognition for his surrealistic and introspective work. He withdrew from Garo in the 1970s and his work became more autobiographical. Tsuge has not published cartoons since the late 1980s, elevating him to cult status in Japan. He lives in Tokyo.

Ryan Holmberg is an arts and comics historian. He has taught at the University of Chicago, CUNY, the University of Southern California, and Duke University, is a frequent contributor to Art in America, Artforum, Yishu, and The Comics Journal, and has edited and translated books by Seiichi Hayashi, Osamu Tezuka, Sasaki Maki, and others.


"Driven in equal parts by sincerity and irony, in a style both spare and lush, the book centers on a revaluation of the crafts, and knowledges, that attend trades and practices one could call deliberately out of step, slow, inefficient, old-fashioned. . . . While The Man Without Talent is by turns mysterious, philosophical and slapstick, it is also tender, capturing the moment-to-moment shift in emotions of a frustrated man who nevertheless loves his child. In a book about valuing the left behind, Tsuge shows us what is never actually at risk of being forsaken." --Hilary Chute, The New York Times Book Review

"Tsuge's raw and profound work is equal parts pathos and poetry, streaked with irony and ribaldry. His lines are beautifully clean and wonderfully expressive, the pages sometimes presenting expertly cartoonish simplicity and other times almost photorealistic detail. . . . Humanity stunningly observed--a treasure." --Kirkus, starred review

"Tsuge's quasi-autobiographical series of vignettes are a masterpiece of mundane struggle. . . . Every page feels lived and desperate, yet shot through with poetry." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Drawn in stark black-and-white panels, Tsuge's frank narrative portrays an artist-in-decline, an anti-Bildungsroman that offers effective storytelling, enduring characters, poignant reflection and, most notably, gratifying art. . . . Holmberg's [essay] 'Where Is Yoshiharu Tsuge?' is an illuminating enhancement--biographically, historically, literally." --Shelf Awareness

"This fascinating collection presents a Japan of scruffy shops and quiet streets in which forgotten men tell strange stories." --James Smart, The Guardian

"[A] semi-autobiographical story that follows a former mangaka as he tries to find new, bizarre ways of providing for his family. . . . Tsuge highlights the struggle between soul-sucking, banal poverty and the desire to lead a simple, peaceful life. . . . The Man Without Talent allows the author and the reader to explore the fantasy of leading a contemplative life; but where other authors would laud such a lifestyle, Tsuge is bitterly honest about how such a lack of responsibility affects those around his protagonist while simultaneously proposing that there are too many demands in modern society." --Morgana Santilli, Comics Beat