One Book One SFU: Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto

2022, Arts + Culture

SFU Library announceed 2022's pick for One Book One SFU: Hiromi Goto's Shadow Life.

We were joined by Goto in conversation with Sarah Leavitt, assistant professor of graphic forms at the UBC School of Creative Writing, and multidisciplinary artist and writer Erica Hiroko Isomura.

About the book

"This wry genre-bending graphic novel … delves into aging, independence, lost love, and mortality with a whimsy that doesn’t undercut its literary heft. ... The loose black-and-white line art by [Ann] 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

"Goto’s latest is an empowering, emotional tribute to defiant, independent, kick-ass old women living their best lives." — Booklist

"Hiromi Goto's stories are singular. Supernatural yet fiercely human, mythical yet firmly rooted in the here and now." — Jillian Tamaki

Borrow the book

Shadow Life is available for borrowing at all three branches of SFU Library.

The book may also be available through your local public library, or from local booksellers such as Massy Books, Iron Dog Books or Pulpfiction Books.

Wed, 09 Mar 2022

Online event


About One Book One SFU

"Congratulations on creating such a radical beautiful intellectual space on campus." — One Book One SFU attendee

Launched in 2015, One Book One SFU is an all-SFU reading experience that is, at its core, committed to the idea that libraries have a role in fostering ideas and facilitating dialogue toward a more just society.

Each year, SFU Library selects a book and makes copies available to the entire university community in Burnaby, Surrey and Vancouver. This university-wide book club concludes with a free public event featuring the author.

Learn more about previous One Book One SFU books and events.

About the speakers

Hiromi Goto

Hiromi Goto is an emigrant from Japan who gratefully resides in Lekwungen Territory. Her first novel, Chorus of Mushrooms, won the 1995 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, Canada and Caribbean Region, and was the co-winner of the Canada-Japan Book Award. Her second adult novel, The Kappa Child, was awarded the 2001 James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award. She’s published three novels for children and youth, a book of poetry, and a collection of short stories (adult). Her other honours include the Sunburst Award and the Carl Brandon Parallax Award.

Hiromi's most recent book, Shadow Life (2021), with artist Ann Xu and published by First Second Books, is her first graphic novel. She is currently at work trying to decolonize her relationship to writing and the land.

Photo credit: Dana Putnam

Sarah Leavitt

Sarah Leavitt’s first book, Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me, was published in Canada and internationally, and translated into French, German and Korean. Tangles was the first comic to be nominated for a Writers’ Trust Award, and has become a widely-studied work in the growing field of comics and medicine. A feature-length animation of Tangles is in development with Giant Ant animation studio and a major American production company.

Sarah’s second book, Agnes, Murderess, won a Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature (fiction) and an Alberta Book Publishers Award (speculative fiction). Agnes was a finalist for both Canadian comics prizes, the Doug Wright Awards and Joe Shuster Awards. Sarah has also published short comics in magazines and anthologies, as well as self-publishing her work in printed zines and online.

Her current work-in-progress is a collection of short, experimental comics about her partner’s death in 2020. You can read most of them on Instagram.

Sarah has been developing and teaching comics classes in the UBC School of Creative Writing since 2012. As of July 1, 2021 she is the school’s first Assistant Professor of Graphic Forms. Her particular areas of interest include autobiographical comics, formal experimentation in comics, and comics pedagogy—developing strategies for teaching comics creation as well as exploring how comics creation shapes students’ work in other forms of writing. Sarah is also an instructor in the Biomedical Visualization and Communication Certificate, a collaboration between the UBC Faculty of Medicine Hackspace for Innovation and Visualization in Education (HIVE) and the Centre for Digital Media.

Photo credit: Jackie Dives

Erica Hiroko Isomura

Born and raised on the west coast, Erica Hiroko Isomura is a yonsei Japanese and Chinese Canadian essayist, poet, multidisciplinary artist, and cultural producer.

Isomura is the recipient of Room magazine's 2021 Emerging Writer Award and won first prize for creative nonfiction in Briarpatch’s 2019 Writing in the Margins contest. In 2021, her poem "Language is" made the CBC Poetry Prize longlist.

Isomura's writing and poetry is published and forthcoming in Canadian literary magazines including Room, carte blanche, The Maynard, Vallum and The Fiddlehead.

Isomura is currently at work on a book of essays, a poetry collection, and a project bringing multi-generational, racialized artists into conversation with one another.

Learn more about Isomura's writing, audio and visual work.

Photo credit: Jeff Nicholls