Thursday 21 January 2010

Confessions of an Onnagata by H. G. Robert

Self Published by the Author via Lulu

Description as written on the author's site:
"Confessions of an Onnagata" by H. G. Robert is a colorful mix of haiku and poetic interludes spiced with pearls of wisdom about gender roles, Japanese phrases and etiquette.

The book's poetic themes are centered around the Onnagata, who is a cross-dressed male actor in the Japanese kabuki theatre. ("Onna" means woman and "Gata" (kata) means way of doing or form.)

Nothing is what it seems. Gender is an illusion.
Onnagatas are the butterflies of life.

I found this book to be a truly unique and creative read. I am admittedly very fond of all things Japanese so this book had piqued my interest from the start. I greatly enjoyed reading the beginning of the book where the reader is treated to a brief history of the Onnagata. That alone got me interested enough to go browsing the world wide web for further info (once I finished the book, of course).

I found the illustrations in the book very appealing. A simple black, white, and red colouring really added a dramatic quality. The written content itself is very diverse as the reader is treated to Haiku poetry, Japanese phrases, and some Japanese customs. I found the Haiku poetry to be beautiful, honest and uncomplicated and I honestly didn't expect to like them that much. I prefer longer poems but I was actually pleasantly surprised by the strong impact of such short messages.

The glimpse into Japanese phrases and customs was interesting to read but really felt a little out of place to me. It just didn't seem to mesh with the rest of the book. It was still a good read though and I know I will visit it again for the Haiku poetry.

*note: This review is for the first edition of the title.

Author's website:

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