American Born Chinese – Read Online Gene Luen Yang’s Award Winning Graphic Novel
Asian-American comic author and artist Gene Luen Yang has put his name among the best graphic novel creators with his brilliant book American Born Chinese. Originally published in 2006 by First Second Books, the graphic novel delivers a parallel story of three main characters: Sun Wukong the Monkey King, an immigrant teen Jin Wang, and an American white boy Danny who has a Chinese cousin. Through these three characters, Yang portrays the issue of racial stereotypical views and the struggle of growing up, the transformation to one undertakes in search of his/her identity.
Sun Wukong the Monkey King is probably the most famous character in Chinese classic literature. Despite his existence as a monkey, Sun Wukong is a powerful deity who has been living for thousands of years. After he goes rampage and beats many gods in heaven, he is punished by Tze-Yo-Tzuh and buried under a mountain for five hundred years. He is then released Wong Lai-Tsao but must accompany the holy monk in the famous Journey to the West. In this book, he has yet another critical quest.
The next main character in the book is Jin Wang, son of an immigrant family in the United States. His family has moved from Chinatown, San Fransisco, to a suburb in which most of the population are white Americans. Finding one’s place in school can be quite a challenge for most adolescents. Added with cultural differences, it is a very difficult for Jin Wang. He also becomes the “bridge” between the stories of the other two main characters in American Born Chinese.
The third main character in this book is Danny. He is a white American boy, about Jin Wang’s age. As an adolescent, he is also struggling to fit in and to be accepted by his peers in school. This is especially true when his Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee stays with him. Chin-Kee’s accent, style, appearance, and habits represent the general racial stereotypes of Chinese. Undoubtedly, Chin-Kee’s presence puts Danny in a difficult spot.
Through American Born Chinese graphic novel, Gene Luen Yang expertly blends a coming-of-age story with the racial stereotypical issues. The book has gained a commercial success and also wide critical acclaims. It won some prestigious awards including Michael L. Printz Award (2007), Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album (2007), Best Comic of the Year in Publishers Weekly Comics Week, San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, and also Best Graphic Novel/Comic of the Year by Amazon.com.