I don’t think there’s a word in the English language for the feeling of simultaneously being sad and being happy that you’re sad, because your sadness means that there is beauty in the world, even in small tragedies, and you are capable of being moved by such beauty. There should be a word for this, if only to make it easier to describe the effect Yumi Sakugawa’s work has on me. Yumi’s art is fascinating in that it tricks you into thinking it’s simple, and therefore must only serve to illustrate the narrative in an economic, practical way. Suddenly, though, you realize that there is a startling depth and intricate texture in the dark river running across a blank page, or you nearly gasp at the claustrophobia and loneliness expressed in the hundreds of tiny windows in a cityscape. With her black pens and brushes and gray washes, she captures fleeting moments and distills huge emotions into quiet, contemplative scenes. Her stories, too, are captivating. Goodbye Turtle and An Unfilled Circle both deal, broadly, with relationships, how we respond to loss, and the things we gain from not having what we want. To describe more than that is to cheapen your own experience with the stories. Like k?ans you are told in a dream, only to half-remember upon waking, they each provide a glimpse into the unknown and the unattainable. You will be compelled to read them over again, and then again, knowing that if you could just reach the light at their cores that you sense peeking out between the lines, you will be treated to a wondrous revelation.

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