In honor of Comic-Con this week, we celebrate Gene Yang and his novel American Born Chinese. For a breakdown of sessions at Comic-Con covering race and identity check out Racialicious’ schedule guide to the convention. Also check out the site’s report on the first-ever Asian American Comic-Con in New York City that happened last week. This dispatch covers the boycott of James Cameron’s anticipated ‘Avatar’, the 3-D film that was a highlight at Comic-Con on Thursday.
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 (more…)