Monday, January 2, 2012

American Born Chinese: A Graphic Novel

American Born Chinese
American Born Chinese
Gene Luen Yang

In this acclaimed graphic novel, Yang tells three interconnected stories about the importance of accepting yourself.

The first tale to be introduced is that of the legendary Monkey King. Although he is an important figure in his community, he is laughed out of a party with the gods. He is determined to have his revenge.

The second story belongs to Jin, a young boy who moves from Chinatown to a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood. He is desperate to fit in and determinedly avoids his only Asian classmate. However, when Wei Chen arrives from Taiwan, Jin slowly accepts him as a  friend, until a fight tears them apart.

Finally, we meet Danny,  high school student embarrassed by his horribly stereotypically Chinese cousin Chin-kee, who visits every year. Chin-Kee's character is so over the top I was afraid my eyebrows would get stuck in the raised position.

Honestly, I was expecting more from this book. There were some interesting aspect, including the ways Yang interwove the three stories, but then the moralizing at the end was a huge turn-off. Also, I know Chin-Kee was supposed to make the reader feel uncomfortable, but I can't put my finger why he bothered he so much. It was like the book as a whole couldn't decide if it was a sophisticated commentary or an overwrought fable.

On a more positive note, I will leave you with the ever-adorable Monkey King:

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