Loads of Learned Lumber

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gene Luen Yang, _American Born Chinese_

A GRAPHIC NOVEL/MEMOIR, braiding the Chinese folktale of the Monkey King, who sought to pass as human; a sit-com-parody about Danny, an all-american kid whose life is disrupted by an endless visit by Chinese relative who embarrassingly embodies all the oldest clich├ęs about the Chinese (pigtails, buck teeth, random switching of liquid consonants); and Yang's own story of his school years, born in the USA but "Asian" to his white suburban peers. As the title suggests, all three stories connect to the theme of being situated between cultures, of finding a way to negotiate identity.

Nothing about that negotiation is easy, but the Monkey King, Danny, and Jin (Gene) all wind up in one and the same story as they work their way towards the realization that you are best off being who you are.

Loved the look of the whole book--clean lines, cartoony in a kind of Hanna-Barbera style but bolder, inspired use of white space and other design elements.

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