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What I’m Reading Now: “The Book of Human Insects” by Osamu Tezuka

When the lovely Laura Shatzkin at Vertical, Inc. offered me a copy of The Book of Human Insects by the “grandfather” of Japanese comics, Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), I nearly soiled my ill-fitting pants in anticipation. Then, I took some deep breaths, cleaned myself up, and asked her to send it to me. I sat staring at the mailbox for a full two days.

And now, I have it in my clutches – as you may know, I’m a huge Tezuka fan, specifically for his work on Buddha. Can’t WAIT to break it open!

The book description:

Osamu Tezuka’s The Book of Human Insects is a dark and haunting story of a young woman who has plagiarized, blackmailed, stolen, and replicated the works of others in her quest for success and public adoration. As she climbs higher and higher – from acclaimed stage actress, to award-winning architect, and, finally, to the recipient of the Akutagawa Prize for Japan’s best new writer — Toshiko Tomura will stop at nothing, not even murder, to get what she wants.

The Book of Human Insects was originally serialized in the 1970s. But Tezuka’s disturbing, seductive vision of a world where only those willing to sell their souls to the masses can achieve their dreams, will resonate today more than ever. Contemporary culture is shaped by reality shows, tabloids, and gossip blogs. We have become obsessed with celebrity, and readily accept it as a substitute for true talent and any semblance of artistic integrity.

With his unerring skill at understanding the psychological and emotional underpinnings of behavior, Osamu Tezuka anticipated this cult of fame by forty years. In his wickedly entertaining tale – now available in English for the first time – he uses his sharpest scalpel to peel back the layers and reveal the essence of our humanity.

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