Shadow Life (Hardcover)

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Shadow Life By Hiromi Goto, Ann Xu (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Hiromi Goto, Ann Xu (Illustrator)
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Staff Reviews

If you're on the hunt for a weird yet heartfelt read, this is the graphic novel for you.  Shadow life follows 76 year old Kumiko, as her day to day life is thrown into chaos when death tries to take her too soon.  Both witty and charming, Kumiko's drive to live life on her own terms drew me in from the start.  A delightful yet touching read, exploring life, death, and love through a fantastical lens.

- Macsen

— From Staff Favorites Winter 2023


2022 Asian/Pacific American Literature Award Winner for Adult Fiction
2022 L.A Times Book Prize Finalist

Poet and novelist Hiromi Goto effortlessly blends wry, observational slice-of-life literary fiction with poetic magical realism in the tender and surprising graphic novel Shadow Life, with haunting art from debut artist Ann Xu.

When Kumiko’s well-meaning adult daughters place her in an assisted living home, the seventy-six-year-old widow gives it a try, but it’s not where she wants to be. She goes on the lam and finds a cozy bachelor apartment, keeping the location secret even while communicating online with her eldest daughter. Kumiko revels in the small, daily pleasures: decorating as she pleases, eating what she wants, and swimming in the community pool. But something has followed her from her former residence—Death’s shadow.

Kumiko’s sweet life is shattered when Death’s shadow swoops in to collect her. With her quick mind and sense of humor, Kumiko, with the help of friends new and old, is prepared for the fight of her life. But how long can an old woman thwart fate?

About the Author

Hiromi Goto is an emigrant from Japan who gratefully lives on the Unceded Musqueam, Skwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil Waututh Territories. She's written Chorus of Mushrooms, The Kappa Child, along with three novels for children and youth, a book of poetry, and a collection of short stories. Shadow Life is her first graphic novel.

Ann Xu is an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist and illustrator working in Baltimore. She graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2017. Her graphic novel work includes Shadow Life and Measuring Up.

Praise For…

"Sprinkled with fabulism (a vacuum and salt can stop death), confronting racist history (Canada’s WWII prison camps for Japanese Canadians), and questioning institutionalized eldercare, Goto’s latest is an empowering, emotional tribute to defiant, independent, kick-ass old women living their best lives."—Booklist, starred review

"The loose black-and-white line art by Xu, including interspersed wordless panels, perfectly captures the progression of Kumiko’s emotions from serenity to revelation to distress to determined defiance, as well as the narrative’s fantastical and surreal turns. Quiet sensitivity and humor shine throughout, lighting the bright triumph in one woman’s twilight."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Product Details
ISBN: 9781626723566
ISBN-10: 1626723567
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: March 30th, 2021
Pages: 368
Language: English