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American Born Chinese [Kindle Edition]

Gene Luen Yang
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
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Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

A tour-de-force by rising indy comics star Gene Yang, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny’s life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable. American Born Chinese is an amazing ride, all the way up to the astonishing climax.
 
American Born Chinese is a 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature, the winner of the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album: New, an Eisner Award nominee for Best Coloring and a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.



Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Indie graphic novelist Gene Yang's intelligent and emotionally challenging American Born Chinese is made up of three individual plotlines: the determined efforts of the Chinese folk hero Monkey King to shed his humble roots and be revered as a god; the struggles faced by Jin Wang, a lonely Asian American middle school student who would do anything to fit in with his white classmates; and the sitcom plight of Danny, an All-American teen so shamed by his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee (a purposefully painful ethnic stereotype) that he is forced to change schools. Each story works well on its own, but Yang engineers a clever convergence of these parallel tales into a powerful climax that destroys the hateful stereotype of Chin-Kee, while leaving both Jin Wang and the Monkey King satisfied and happy to be who they are.

Yang skillfully weaves these affecting, often humorous stories together to create a masterful commentary about race, identity, and self-acceptance that has earned him a spot as a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People. The artwork, rendered in a chromatically cool palette, is crisp and clear, with clean white space around center panels that sharply focuses the reader's attention in on Yang's achingly familiar characters. There isn't an adolescent alive who won't be able to relate to Jin's wish to be someone other than who he is, and his gradual realization that there is no better feeling than being comfortable in your own skin.--Jennifer Hubert

From Publishers Weekly

As alienated kids go, Jin Wang is fairly run-of-the-mill: he eats lunch by himself in a corner of the schoolyard, gets picked on by bullies and jocks and develops a sweat-inducing crush on a pretty classmate. And, oh, yes, his parents are from Taiwan. This much-anticipated, affecting story about growing up different is more than just the story of a Chinese-American childhood; it's a fable for every kid born into a body and a life they wished they could escape. The fable is filtered through some very specific cultural icons: the much-beloved Monkey King, a figure familiar to Chinese kids the world over, and a buck-toothed amalgamation of racist stereotypes named Chin-Kee. Jin's hopes and humiliations might be mirrored in Chin-Kee's destructive glee or the Monkey King's struggle to come to terms with himself, but each character's expressions and actions are always perfectly familiar. True to its origin as a Web comic, this story's clear, concise lines and expert coloring are deceptively simple yet expressive. Even when Yang slips in an occasional Chinese ideogram or myth, the sentiments he's depicting need no translation. Yang accomplishes the remarkable feat of practicing what he preaches with this book: accept who you are and you'll already have reached out to others. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 12084 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; Reprint edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003H4VYQ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,035 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
129 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The guy even makes Transformers meaningful! September 6, 2006
Format:Paperback
I've made it my personal quest to find a children's graphic novel that can prove to naysayers anywhere the literary possibilities of the genre. When, "American Born Chinese", was placed merrily into my hands, however, I fairly ignorant of its potential. The name Gene Luen Yang didn't mean anything to me. The style was not one that immediately leapt out at me. But I'm a sucker for a good graphic novel and this book had something going for it: The Monkey King. I love love love any stories, legends, picture books, what have you, that contain that most legendary of all gods and goddesses, the king of the monkeys himself. Lured in by the promise of some serious fantasy (as, I am sure, many kids who pick up this book will as well) I found a story about assimilation that is so brilliantly penned and carefully plotted that it rivals every notion of what a graphic novel can and can't do. Do you know someone who couldn't care less about this new format? Someone who thinks comic books can't convey the weight and intelligence of a proper novel? Thrust "American Born Chinese" into their arms immediately, if not sooner. If I were to choose a single graphic novel to grace every library's children's room nationwide, you can bet that this is the puppy I'd put my faith in.

Three storylines. Three different characters. One single idea. At the heart of our first story is Jin Wang, the son of Chinese immigrants, who just wants to fit in. He wants to date the cute blond girl in the overalls and to perm his hair. What he wants, and how far he's willing to go to get it, is the center of the story itself. The second storyline concerns the tales of the Monkey King. Not content to be merely a monkey, the Monkey King did everything in his power to become a Great Sage, Equal of Heaven.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Themes, Great Sense of Humor January 9, 2007
Format:Paperback
This book is a truly stellar contribution to the graphic novel genre. Jin Wang's coming-of-age story is pitch-perfect in its attention to visual detail as well as its "feel" for adolescent dialogue. Not content to tell this story "straight," Gene Yang introduces two other narratives -- those of the legendary Monkey King and of the sitcom characters Danny and Chin-Kee -- to add multiple layers of meaning to Jin's struggles to fit in.

It shoud be noted that, even though Yang balances three stories (which ultimately converge) in this book, Jin's story serves as the emotional core of the novel. The Monkey King's and Chin-Kee's stories represent different poles of Jin's identity as a Chinese American -- extreme, identity-negating self-reliance, on the one hand, and extreme, caricatured self-hatred, on the other. The novel does a brilliant job of drawing us into the world of a teenager who engages these extremes as a matter of "growing up Asian American" -- a paradoxical subject of repulsion and desire, exclusion and belonging.

Don't get me wrong, though: while Yang's themes are undeniably powerful, his writing is just really, really funny. The Monkey King is raucously self-involved; Chin-Kee is both sad and strangely self-aware of his own caricaturedness (i.e., his "kung fu" moves are all named after "Chinese" dishes, like "Mooshu Fist"), and one scene involving Jin, bathroom soap, and his love interest Amelia had me in stitches. Which is to say it's nice to see that important themes of identity and cultural belonging can be explored in such a playful manner.

Credit to Yang, then, for not taking himself so seriously, and for giving us a profound meditation on "growing up ethnic" that looks, sounds, and *feels* right.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Debut September 11, 2006
Format:Paperback
This beautifully produced graphic novel contains three storylines which come together in a well-constructed final chapter. The first storyline concerns the classic Chinese tale of the Monkey King (Sun Wukong) and his egotistical quest to become a god above all others. The second storyline is a about a Taiwanese-American kid raised in San Francisco's Chinatown who moves with his family to the suburbs. There he tries to fit in at his new elementary school, and goes through the usual loneliness of the outsider, endures bullying, makes friends with the other two Asian kids, and falls in love with a pretty white girl. The third storyline is delivered as a tasteless sitcom about an all-American high-school boy whose life gets turned upside down when his bucktoothed stereotype of a Chinese cousin comes to visit. Although the tone is very different in each storyline, they all have something to say about being different and coming to terms with one's identity, and the way they morph into a single climax at the end is quite clever and effective. It's a nice book to give any kid who's struggling with trying to find their place in the nasty world. The artwork is very clean and simple, with traditional lettering, crisp colors, and very simple paneling (which is nicely framed by generous white space above and below). The printing is beautiful and the paper and binding is top-notch.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish There Was Something for Above 5 Stars August 29, 2007
By ZeeSays
Format:Paperback
American Born Chinese by Gene Yang was the Printz Award winner for 2007. It's been sitting in my pile for a few months now, even though I was told it would take me no more than an hour to read. All the reviews I read about this graphic novel have been very positive, and I must agree it is a masterpiece.

But, as usual, I have a different viewpoint to bring to this discussion. We all have filters we view the world through, and this is also true of the way we approach media, whether it be books, movies, poetry, etc. My Christian faith is a large filter for me, and it impacts the way I view books.

American Born Chinese is a story told in three separate stories that eventually converge. Remember Holes? Louis Sachar did the same thing. The three plotlines came together in surprising ways that add to the enjoyment of the story. It is part of the mystery of the book.

In plotline one, Jin Wang has started a new life in a new home and a new school. He struggles to fit in with his new classmates who only see his differences. His classmates focus only on the negative stereotypes they have heard about the Chinese people. He is mocked and picked on, and the only friend he can find is a bully who threatens to make Jin eat his boogers if he won't share his food. I found myself cringing a little as I remembered a classmate that was in my elementary school. His name was Nguyen Ly, but later on he changed his name to an American name. Now I understand why he wanted to do that. It is hard to be different. One more important aspect to this story is that Jin loves his transformer robot. One day, he wants to be a transformer himself.

In plot two, the King of the Monkeys is angered when he is turned away at a party for being a monkey.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
I got it for my graphic novels class. It's a cute book, fast read. There's three stories, one of the Monkey King, one presented as an American sitcom, and the main story line but... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Michelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Graphic Novel for Youth
A powerful graphic novel, this award winning book explores issues such as friendship and stereotypes. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Annette Lamb
5.0 out of 5 stars His point, and he does have one, is actually awesome.
Okay, so you're already an open-minded culturally exposed reader, you're no longer a teenager, and you don't really need anyone to explain to you that there is racism in the world... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Gen Falel
5.0 out of 5 stars Great comic book for children and grown up
Really love it. I don't have keds but it is really a great story
Published 1 month ago by Juan Sebastian Duque
3.0 out of 5 stars OK
yep...
this book is racist i dont know if the author intended to do so or if it was story needed but meh... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Yan Wang
5.0 out of 5 stars meaningful and strong
great. how the author balances three storys at the same time(my fave story is the monkey king one.) but you may need to read multiple times to understand, but it is tottaly worth... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Viladeth Saetia
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Your Time
“Three very different characters. One simple goal: to fit in.” Jin moves with his family and attends a new middle school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Camille
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
just a good book
Published 2 months ago by Keith
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are asian, then it's a good book for you to relate too!
Refreshing original book!
Published 2 months ago by zango
1.0 out of 5 stars Where's the Buddha?
As a professor of Chinese, I purchased the book to see if it might be appropriate for a freshman seminar on "Being young in Asia. Read more
Published 2 months ago by the Chinese Professor
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More About the Author

Gene Luen Yang began making comic books in the fifth grade. He has since written and drawn a number of titles. His 2006 book American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association's Michael L. Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album - New. His 2013 two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints was nominated for both the National Book Award and the LA Times Book Award. Gene currently writes the graphic novel continuation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Shadow Hero, his recent comic book series with Sonny Liew, revives the Green Turtle, an obscure 1940s character who is arguably the first Asian American superhero. The Shadow Hero is now available as individual digital issues via Amazon Kindle. The print trade paperback collection will be released on July 15, 2014.

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