Rediscover: American Born Chinese

This year is the 16th anniversary of American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, a graphic novel for young readers inspired by Yang's experiences growing up in the United States as the son of Chinese immigrants. It includes three interconnected narratives: the first about a reimagined Monkey King from the 16th century Chinese novel Journey to the West, the second about a child of Chinese immigrants struggling with his identity in a white suburb, with the third story tying the first two together. Yang's book, colored by cartoonist Lark Pien, won the Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album, the American Library Association's Printz Award for best YA book of the year and was a finalist for the National Book Award (sparking controversy over the inclusion of a graphic novel). American Born Chinese, published by First Second, has sold more than 500,000 copies and is often taught in high schools. In 2016, Yang was appointed National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and received a MacArthur Fellowship.

Yang is also the author of Boxers and Saints, a two-volume graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion in China between 1899 and 1901, during which more than 100,000 people were killed and which led to an invasion by Western countries. He has also written a series of graphic novels called Secret Coders, combining logic puzzles and programming instructions into a story about seventh graders who discover a secret coding school. His other work includes The Eternal Smile, Prime Baby, The Shadow Hero and Dragon Hoops. A television adaptation of American Born Chinese, written by Charles Yu (Interior Chinatown) and Kelvin Yu, finished filming earlier this month and will be available on Disney+. --Tobias Mutter

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