American Born Chinese
by Yang, Gene Luen; Pien, Lark (ILT)

Alternates three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans trying to participate in the popular culture.

Gene Luen Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. In 1997, he received the Xeric Grant, a prestigious comics industry grant, for Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks, his first comics work. He has since written and drawn a number of titles, including Duncan's Kingdom (with art by Derek Kirk Kim), The Rosary Comic Book, Prime Baby and Animal Crackers. American Born Chinese, his first graphic novel from First Second, was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. He also won an Eisner for The Eternal Smile, a collaboration with Derek Kirk Kim. Yang lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he teaches high school.

With vibrant colors and visual panache, indie writer-illustrator Yang (Rosary Comic Book) focuses on three characters in tales that touch on facets of Chinese American life. Jin is a boy faced with the casual racism of fellow students and the pressure of his crush on a Caucasian girl; the Monkey King, a character from Chinese folklore, has attained great power but feels he is being held back because of what the gods perceive as his lowly status; and Danny, a popular high-school student, suffers through an annual visit from his cousin Chin-Kee, a walking, talking compendium of exaggerated Chinese stereotypes. Each of the characters is flawed but familiar, and, in a clever postmodern twist, all share a deep, unforeseen connection. Yang helps the humor shine by using his art to exaggerate or contradict the words, creating a synthesis that marks an accomplished graphic storyteller. The stories have a simple, engaging sweep to them, but their weighty subjects-shame, racism, and friendship-receive thoughtful, powerful examination. ((Reviewed September 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews

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