I blame my recent obsession with graphic novels on the Text Messages podcast I listened to this summer that discussed the popular graphic novels and their draw to teens. I have one student in my class who is currently reading American-Born Chinese, and having just finished it, I’m rather happy about this fact. Hopefully, he can identify with the idea that everyone, really, is trying to figure out who they are, and find a place to fit in whatever social/cultural circle(s) they choose to run in.
American-Born Chinese is told in the form of three parallel stories: the story of Jin Wang, a middle school student who has just moved to a place where no one looks like him; the story of the Monkey King who lets his pride stand in the way of understanding what it really means to be a diety; and the story of Chin Kee, a caricature of the Chinese stereotype in America. These three stories come together, and each of the main characters understands what it means to have a place in America.
I do have to point out one funny bit before I sign off. Do you remember William Hung of American Idol fame? American-Born Chinese wouldn’t be complete if Chin Kee didn’t make fun of him, too. As much as I’d love to show you an image of that particular page, I’m not going to. If you’re really interested, you can see it for yourself. What I will leave you with, however, is a video of Gene Luen Yang talking about his graphic novel. Enjoy.
Gene Luen Yang talks about American-Born Chinese