EL本棚紹介(16)Shortcomings, by Adrian Tomine

[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.]


What do you think of when you hear the word “prejudice”? The first thing I (an American) think of is racism against black people, or maybe prejudice against LGBTQ minorities. However, prejudice exists in many different forms. Prejudice is more complicated than “black versus white.” It can exist even within communities, like how the different Asians in this book treat their relationships with each other and the non-Asians in their community.

Shortcomings is about Ben and Miko, two Japanese-Americans living in California. They live together but are falling out of love. Miko is an activist who sees Asian identity as being attacked by American culture. Ben, on the other hand, refuses to see racism anywhere. At the same time, he seems to want to become a “white American” himself. This causes many problems for their relationship.

Note: This book is about adult relationships, and the characters use some crude sexual language. However, there are no explicit images.

My two cents: Shortcomings is honest. The characters are very realistic, and so even if you don’t like Ben (he’s hard to like), I think you can see a real person behind the comic panel.