American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

In this colourful graphic novel, three stories that are interwoven into a stronger thread create an evocative narrative of identity and acceptance. In the first story, Jin moves from his San Francisco home to a mostly Caucasian suburb where he is taunted and isolated. Although things become better when he befriends Wei-chen, the new boy from Taiwan, complications arise when he falls for a “white girl”. In the second story the Monkey King aspires to elevate beyond his status as a ‘mere’ monkey to be respected as one of the powerful immortals. The third tale tells of the challenges faced by Danny, a young white Imagestudent, when his cousin Chin-Kee comes to town. His cousin is an exaggerated caricature composed almost entirely of stereotypes and misconceptions held about Chinese people. The cleverly written and thoughtful work provides the reader the chance to re-examine ideas around tolerance and the search for acceptance.

The characters in the book resonate with an honesty that really breathes life into them. This novel is highly accessible as readers do not have to be familiar with the traditional tale of the Monkey King for Yang’s version of this story to be meaningful as presented in the book. Readers, particularly anyone who has ever felt out-of-place or conflicted about their own identity will find the issues relatable.

Learn more about the Graphic novel featuring Gene Yang!

Visit his homepage to read more about the graphic novel and about Yang himself.

Check out how it’s been reviewed on Publisher’s Weekly.

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