American Born Chinese

by

American Born Chinese

August 13, 2012

American Born Chinese

Author: Gene Luen Yang

Title: American Born Chinese

Genre: Multi-Cultural Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 233

Geographical Setting: San Francisco, California

Time Period: Modern/Mythical Time

Plot Summary: This is a graphic novel that blends traditional Chinese mythology with racial stereotypes and understanding identity. This novel has three separate stories. The first is the tale of the Monkey King, a Chinese Myth. The second story follows a Chinese boy named Jin Wang who moves from China-Town, in San Francisco, to an all white suburb and his struggles to fit in. The third story follows a white-American boy named Danny whose Chinese cousin comes to visit. “Chin-Kee,” his cousin, displays all the racial stereotypes of Chinese peoples. This novel won numerous awards including the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album.

Subject Headings: Chinese – Graphic Novel; Chinese Mythology — Graphic Novel; Race identity– Fiction; Chinese Stereotypes – Graphic Novel

Appeal: Thoughtful, Engaging, Honest, Candid, Detailed, Engrossing, Complex, Realistic, Mythical, Thought-Provoking, Multiple- Points of View, Artistic

Three appeal terms:  Candid, Mythical, Complex

Three fiction read-alikes:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This book is a look at Junior, a teen-ager, who is a Spokane Indian. He lives on the reservation with his family, but decides to go to an all-white high school. This book contains wonderful illustrations and deals with race-identity and racial stereo types.

Black and White by Paul Volponi

This book looks at the disparities in the justice system between blacks and whites in America.  It follows the story of two friends, one black and one white: Marcus and Eddy. They both play basketball and are best friends, but one day they both commit the same crime, will one be treated differently than the other because of race?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This novel is a classic in American Literature. It is a story about a black man who is wrongly accused of a crime and the white lawyer who goes against the “norm” to represent the accused.  It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.

Three related non-fiction titles:

Chinese Mythology: An Introduction by Ann M. Birrell

This book includes over three-hundred Chinese myths translated by Anne Birrell. The reason this book is so amazing is that many of the myths are from classical texts that have never been translated for the west.

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

This novel is a true account of Adeline Mah’s childhood told as the classical Cinderella story. Her father re-marries after her mother dies in child-birth and the life she and her siblings have to endure at the hands of their “wicked” step-mother. She is treated the worst of all.

Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans by Jean Pfælzer

This is a look at the shocking truth behind the systematic purging of Chinese people from 1848 till the 1900s in the West. This is a true story of triumph over adversity as the Chinese did not sit still for this treatment and fought back for their civil-rights.

– Charles Ford

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