EL本棚紹介(23) My Brother’s Husband, by Gengoroh Tagame

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]


Yaichi is a single parent living with his daughter Kana. His twin brother moved to Canada and married a man there, Mike. Now, the brother is dead, and Mike is coming to visit Yaichi for the first time. The story plays out how you might expect: at first, Yaichi is uncomfortable with Mike’s sexuality and how he reminds him of his brother. Kana accepts Mike without a second thought. Mike is caring and quickly becomes part of the family. And because this is a Japanese manga, each chapter is a short story that you can read easily on its own.

Maybe you will be surprised by Yaichi’s rejection of Mike. But what makes this story effective, I think, is how realistic it feels. Yaichi is not a bigot. He is not openly homophobic. However, when the abstract idea of “a gay person” becomes concrete when he meets Mike, he is forced to really think about what that means. By explaining Mike to Kana, he is really learning for himself.

My two cents: Gengoroh Tagame is a prominent gay manga artist, and he does not draw from a stereotypical “heteronormative” perspective. It is quite different and maybe surprising to read a manga where male bodies are drawn in the way women often are!