The heart-rending autobiographical manga that’s taken the internet by storm!
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is an honest and heartfelt look at one young woman’s exploration of her sexuality, mental well-being, and growing up in our modern age. Told using expressive artwork that invokes both
laughter and tears, this moving and highly entertaining single volume depicts not only the artist’s burgeoning sexuality, but many other personal aspects of her life that will resonate with readers.
My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness was written and drawn by Kabi Nagata, with art colored in a two-tone palette. According to Nagata, she does not hesitate to expose her private life for the sake of creating interesting content for a manga, despite being more introverted when speaking to people in person. She decided to do this because of a lack of work after she had become a manga artist, thinking that the only way for her to create something interesting that could earn her a living was to base her creation on her own experiences. The writing process involved her writing down things that have happened to her, and her feelings, in the form of a bulleted list, and rearranging the items to form a narrative. When writing, she strove towards neither lowering or glorifying herself, to avoid spreading too negative feelings and making readers unable to relate to the stories. She said that there were some things she “couldn’t touch on” in the manga, that she would like to use in a future work.
Acclaimed in The Advocate‘s Best LGBT Graphics Novels of 2017, the NPR Guide to 2017’s Great Reads, and the Publishers Weekly Best Books 2017.
“While the subject matter is by no means light, this moving and honest slice of life will resonate with anyone who has questioned themselves or ever been conflicted in their lives. And let’s face it: that is all of us.” — Judith Utz, Teen Vogue
“The self-discovery that follows is utterly fascinating.” — Abraham Riesman, Vulture
“Sheds light on the complicated emotional and mental dynamics involved in lesbian relationships. Her story is an open, honest, and deeply personal look at her struggles to fight back against her eating disorder, stop self-harming, and learn more about her sexuality.” — Ana Valens, The Mary Sue
“…this is a comic that (a) treats sex workers with dignity and agency in a medium which has been historically unkind, (b) addresses very real themes of self-harm in a direct and honest way, and (c) adopts an attitude of complete acceptance of sexuality fluidity.” — Katie Skelly, The Comics Journal
“My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is one of the most powerful manga I have ever read, and it all comes down to Nagata Kabi’s openness and honesty.” — Nik Freeman, Anime News Network
“No question, absolutely, my pick this week is My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, which was simply one of the best autobiographical manga I’ve read.” — Sean Gaffney, Manga Bookshelf
“A complicated play of gender and sexual identities that Nagata unbinds and sorts through with striking aesthetic aplomb. ” — Shea Hennum, The A. V. Club
“It’s impossible not to shed tears while reading this work; Nagata’s unflinching honesty is courageous, but the reason it resonates is because it parses experiences many of her readers have, but have never been able to give voice to. Nagata gave voice to her experience and that has allowed her readers to realize they are not alone.” — Hans Rollman, Pop Matters
About the Author
Kabi Nagata is a manga artist best known for her autobiographical comic, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness
Top customer reviews
For a very long time, a vague haze of cynicism has ruled over much of media. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (MLEL) does not indulge in such, instead portraying pain, loneliness, inexperience, and depression through the lens of honesty and genuinity. MLEL is intensely personal, and as a result reached to a chamber of my heart most stories never come close to. Beyond its personal affect, I have been lucky enough to witness MLEL spread happiness and discussion through the community of women closest to me, with an incredible popularity among fellow lesbians. Its incredible to see how many people were moved by this story so drastically.
This is the only book that I have ever set an alarm over a year in advance for. I read an amateur translation sometime in 2016, shortly after discovering that an official english translation would be released. At that point I marked my calendar to ensure that I would have a copy of this incredible, incredible manga.
It’s not often I find cute biographies where depression and anxiety aren’t framed in a short term, “then I got over it” way. The naked honesty of Kabi Nagata’s thoughts and experiences are really refreshing (and more than one time made me tear up with recognition) — it’s a story of bravery and healing as well, but it’s so encouraging to to read her aknowledgements that no, even when you try to change your life around there are obstacles, and the struggles might always be there. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless to try.
A cute straightforward art style, and a matter-of-factly attitiude to being lesbian also makes this a great read.
There are never enough stories that portray, with brutal honesty, what it’s like to be a lesbian within a society that doesn’t even acknowledge you exist – what it’s like to struggle with mental illness – and what it’s like to struggle a people-pleasing complex at the expensive of your own well being. At times I felt like I was reading my story as I turned each page – even though I am not Japanese and I never sought affection from a lesbian escort service. But I did experience an eating disorder, and I do know what it’s like to have self-inflicted scars you cannot hide – not to mention the desire to be “normal” without a healthy foundation to guide me. I know what it’s like to feel like it’s easier to shut people out than pretend to be someone you’re not in hopes that they will accept you. Kabi Nagata may have taken a different path than myself – but the pain inside she presents so beautifully on paper – that is like looking in a mirror.
If you suffer(ed) from mental illness or loneliness, approach this book with caution. There’s a relief in relating to the author, but there is also a heaviness and rawness in the way the Nagata presents her experience. It can be triggering. I found my skin crawling a bit during the bits about the author’s eating disorder, which I expected. But I did not expect to be triggered by the sex scene – and this was on multiple levels. For one, as a therapist who works with survivors of sexual abuse/assault, I felt uncomfortable knowing that Nagata was not ready or present for her dalliance with the escort – despite the kindness of the worker it read a bit rape-y. It seemed like Nagata was pushing herself into the experience – which, I think, was the point. But for some reason I was expecting to cheer or feel reassurance after Nagata’s visit to the love hotel. I was left feeling uneasy and sad.