saiwai’s manga biography of the dalai lama is a quick read, a story told with compassion and respect. the japanese manga artist saiwai does an admirable job in condensing the life of this extraordinary man into a slender paperback that – in my view – can be enjoyed by anyone. the story – a true story – begins with the search for the new spiritual leader after the 13th dalai lama has passed away. the two year-old boy the men find is just that, a two year-old boy who likes to play. he is taught by example by his parents who are compassionate toward those who are in need. he also seems to have some prescience or understanding that goes beyond what a child his age would know. the book shows us episodes from the young man’s life and follows his holiness up to the present day.
the conflict the dalai lama finds himself in as a young man is something we can understand, a situation with no simple solution: should the people he is supposed to protect and guide toward happiness suffer abuse without fighting back, maintaining a one-sided stance of non-violence, or should they take up arms against the chinese forces who do not only outnumber them but are also much better equipped? in the end, there is another solution, at least a temporary one, that does not involve the tibetan culture being erased off the map.
very readable! and might be enjoyed as much by a mature / curious child as by any adult. a good starting point that makes you want to read and know more. this will stay on my shelf for a while, for sure! 🙂