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American Born Chinese

April 9, 2007


American Born Chinese is the first graphic novel to win a Printz Award, and nominated for a National Book Award. 
The graphic novel is a three-pronged story, which later meshes into one storyline.  The first story is an ancient Chinese fable about a Monkey King who is a deity, and kung-fu master. After being rejected from Heaven the Monkey King decides that he wants to be less like a  monkey, and more like “The Great Sage, Equal to Heaven.”  The second story features Jin Wang a Chinese-American student who is racially bullied by his white classmates.  The last story is sitcom-like tale about an all-American teen named Danny, who is visited once a year by his cousin Chin-Kee who is the ultimate Chinese stereotype. (Chin-Kee even does a rendition of American Idol reject William Hung’s “She Bangs.”)

Author Gene Yang effectively weaves the three storylines to form a thought provoking essay on culture, race, and self-perception as a minority in America.  Yang’s artwork is simple, clean, and makes use of bold coloring that catches the readers eye.  Readers will delight in Yang’s humorous and bittersweet outlook on what it means to be an Asian-American.

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