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American Born Chinese

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  35,060 ratings  ·  4,280 reviews

The story of a Chinese-American kid in an all-white school is combined with the Chinese fable of the "Monkey King" and a send-up of racial stereotypes in this allegory of Chinese-American identity.

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by First Second (first published September 1st 2006)
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this book is the perfect antidote to the "graphic novels aren't real books" crowd's poison. it takes full advantage of the medium (lgm with the local boy scout troops), and just runs with it. this story could not have been told as well or as broadly using a more traditional narrative structure. and at the end, there is a perfect collapse - the three storylines streamline so perfectly into one message about cultural acclimatization and race-shame. and why it is bad. but not in a preachy way. it i ...more
I wrote a poem many years ago about wishing I was black so I could have an afro. How do you beat afros as a hairstyle? About the only way is by having afro puffs, which white dudes also can't have. Partially because they are white, and partially because they're dudes.


I used to skip over that page of job applications that asks your ethnicity. I thought it was stupid that anyone would care what my race, or my sex, was before deciding whether or not to hire me. Hahahah, I was soooo naive!

Since the
Dolly Ou
Dec 08, 2007 Dolly Ou rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Gene Luen Yang does a good job telling his story about his life (or not his own maybe) as a Chinese American. I was very excited to read this book becasue first it was a graphic novel and second his story sort of connects with me since I am a Chinese American myself.
Yang chooses an interesting title, "American Born Chinese". Its not one of those clever, thought provoking titles, but it is a rare one that you don't come across often. I sort of anticipated on what this story will be about, but w
Jessica Abarquez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seth Hahne
It's funny that the most notable thing I can tell you about this book is that it's in colour.

That might not strike you as odd, but really, for the type of story Yang tells, the comics industry has almost universally awarded such stories a black and white printing. If not autobiographical, American Born Chinese is the kind of story that might very well be.

Examining the difficulty with which a child born in one country from parents of another country, the author explores the kind of dissatisfactio
One thing that stood out most is that the author focused on exploring the inner self-conscious shame of the immigrant or non-Western, instead of making his main characters perfect, full of mature pride for his identity. In fact, the students around Jin Wang and Wei Chen were portrayed pretty realistically too - some of them were disgusting bullies seeing only one stereotypical image of the Asian, some were more subtly bigoted, and some others don't treat them any different. Although I'm Asian, n ...more
About a week ago, The Shadow Hero finally exposed me to Gene Luen Yang's writing. Now I need to find out what I have been missing, of course, and American Born Chinese is my second encounter with the Chinese American author.

Both books are about the immigrant experience, a topic difficult to write about in a way that is politically correct but not all too obvious and predictable. In both cases I had some doubts early on as to whether Yang would be able to pull it off, but both times he eventually
Kevin Xu
This book mixes three different stories to combine as one overall book about how it is like being the An Chinese American boy. All story are mixed together so all one sees is the bites and parts until the end. The first story is the famous Chinese Fable, Journey to the West, but just with the Monkey King trying to teach morals. Then the second story, where the main character Jin Wang is introduced at age 9 as his family moves. It details his life from childhood until the end of middle school wit ...more

Quite a quirky book, but it benefits from it. It does it's own thing and completely does it well. The themes were powerful and well delivered: I loved seeing the three different stories comment on racism, but more than that, self acceptance.

The art wasn't /necessarily/ outstanding, in the terms that I didn't find myself ogling over the illustrations. BUT, it was perfect for this story. It was wonderful! I liked it! Don't get me wrong! The monkey pictures were so cute!

I'll defin
This took all of about an hour to read and was totally worth it. Three stories of quiet power unfurl--the Monkey King, who undertakes a quest for dominance after a slight by the gods; Jin Wang, the title character and one of a handful of Asian students at his elementary school, trying to maneuver through bullies, love, and American culture; and Danny, a white teenager, and his Chinese cousin, Chin-kee, the embodiment of the racist Chinese stereotype. All three stories intersect in the climax, wi ...more
I’ve been hearing about Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel American Born Chinese for months. The book won the Printz Award, was a National Book Award finalist, and was chosen the best book of the year by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, etcetera, etcetera. This book has amazing credentials.

Considering all the buzz, all the acclaim, my expectations were so high that perhaps I could not help but be disappointed. The book is good, but is really great?

This is only the
Agne Jakubauskaite
Jun 24, 2015 Agne Jakubauskaite rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who has ever wished to be somebody else.
Recommended to Agne by: Read and Meet Book Club

"American Born Chinese" is Gene Luen Yang's multiple-award-winning comic book, featuring three seemingly unrelated stories. The first tale is a well-known Chinese fable about the Monkey King, who is the master of kung-fu and the ruler of the monkey kingdom, Flower-Fruit Mountain. There is only one thing the Monkey King is unhappy about: he doesn’t want to be a monkey. The second story is centered around Jin Wang, American born Chinese, who transferred to a new school, where he i
Gene Luen Yang blends three stories (that of the famous chinese Monkey god from Journey to the West; the story of Jin Wang, an American boy born of Chinese immigrants; and Chin-Kee, a walking stereotype) into one humorous and thought-provoking story told in graphic novel form that reads like a self-effacing diary. His characters are funny and charming, and the three separate threads combine at the end to make them something greater than the sum of their parts.
American Born Chinese is easily a on
Separately, the three stories that make up this book are all immediately engaging and quite funny. Unfortunately, Yang tries to get fancy at the end, laboriously converging stories that were much better off on their own. The result is ultimately unsatisfying, a hasty wrap-up posing as innovative narrative. A shame, since until the overreaching conclusion I was feeling very four-star, even slightly five-star, about what I'd been reading. Three awesome graphic novels are better than one decent one ...more
The opening section of this graphic novel, the Monkey King story, was a little hard to get into at first because I felt like I was missing some kind of cultural knowledge that would help me understand the story better. It felt like if I were Chinese, perhaps I would have heard this story before and would have a better idea of where it was going, what kind of message it was trying to give me. Whether it was intentional or not, this initial disconnect to the story actually helped me better underst ...more
The Flooze
The last book I read ended with the fierce hope that all of us might break free of the prisons of our own making, allowing us to embrace the beauty of the world with open hearts and minds. Interestingly, American Born Chinese expresses a very similar theme - though it does make the message more personal.

Consisting of three distinct stories, Yang’s graphic novel focuses most strongly on the acceptance of self. The main characters of these tales have identity issues galore. Jin, Danny, and the Mo
Cait Grace
I'm not terribly knowledgable about Graphic Novels but I definitely enjoyed this one! It reminded me of In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (which I read like a million years ago for school). It's kind of an exaggerated truth about learning to be who you really are and accept yourself. There's a lot in it about racism too and how hard it is for culture's to accept other cultures.

SO YUS. It was a fantastic read.

It was a fair bit nonsensical, which I usually loved...but I did find myself
Chad Bearden
Oct 16, 2008 Chad Bearden rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chad by: Kerri Harris
I think, to my middle school English teaching colleagues, I portray myself as hating anything that is written primarily for adolescents rather than for adults. In practice, this is basically true. Most of what I've read with the "Young Adult" label is adequately written but thematically obvious, and kids who get excited about such works are the kinds who are then able to brag that they read a great book, but without having to do any of the heavy intellectual lifting that is required from reading ...more
May 26, 2007 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New converts to graphic novels
I know this is shallow, but one of the things I like about graphic novels is that they're such fast reads. It was extremely satisfying to complete Yang's funny, engaging, and wise tale in under an hour - which included lingering over the simple, colorful artwork.

Yang weaves together three distinct stories that generate deft insights into racial identity, adolescent anguish, and the folly of hubris. Although I found each storyline interesting, my favorite was the legend of the Monkey King, whose
A masterpiece of storytelling that resonates long after reading. Gene Luen Yang weaves three tales that deal with identity and transformation. Each is entertaining and thought-provoking: the folk tale of the Monkey King, the personal story of Jin Wang and his struggle to fit into white America, and the story of Danny, a white student visited by his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee who displays every known racial stereotype.

I rank this among the great graphic novels I've experienced: Maus, Watchmen, The D

I think this book would have been better if I read it while I was younger... I know that's a really snoby thing to say but God did this feel a little too childish.

The humor was dry. The characters were not relatable whatsoever and the perspectives felt really choppy beside each other. But the saving grace of this book was its ending because it was brilliant.

Also the art wasn't my taste.

I mean this book was ok but if I were to describe it to someone, I would say its awkward. Awkward shif
A lovely interweaving of three stories, which Yang skillfully ties together at the end of this moving book. Here he examines identity and ethnicity, bullying and belonging, stereotypes and perceptions, love and friendship. Yang's art is beautiful and the message that we are purposely crafted and skillfully made resonated deeply within me. I am created to be me; a difficult lesson to fully comprehend when my wandering gaze glamorizes others and makes me feel inadequate. Beautiful, Gene Luen Yang.
Charlotte Jones
I had heard nothing but amazing things about this graphic novel before picking it up so when I saw it in the library I thought I’d give it a go.

One of the most important things for me personally when it comes to graphic novels is the artwork and in this one I think that it was done really well and suited the style of the story, though it did take me a few pages to get into.

I loved the interwoven stories of modern day America with the more traditional tales of the Monkey King, pairing Chinese myt
This was a neat way to tell a familiar story. The ending threw me for a second, (view spoiler) but it was a nice, weird way to wrap things up.
I haven't read Boxers or Saints yet, but I plan to. I loved his more recent book, The Shadow Hero.
Haley  *Good friends are like stars* #LoveWins
You know, I don't read too many graphic novels. But I quite enjoyed this! I will definitely check out more by this author.

This book is composed of three stories; 1) the tale of the Monkey King, who wants to be more than a monkey, he wants to be a god. 2) The story of Jin Wang and how he struggles with being Asian in a predominantly white school and 3) Danny's story and his relationship with his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee.
It's kind of confusing at first, but all the stories end up being connected.
Elli (The Bibliophile)
I really enjoy Gene Luen Yang's art, and I liked how he created the characters (they were well developed.) I also really liked how he dealt with the problems faced by Asian-Americans (or any other visible minorities/immigrants really.)

At first, I found some aspects of Jin's story a bit disjointed, it seemed like (especially in the first couple of pages of his section) the author was trying to tell a lot in a short amount of time, so it felt a bit rushed.

I liked how there were 3 distinct storyli
Samantha Cox
"When he entered his royal chamber, the thick smell of monkey fur greeted him. He'd never noticed it before. He stayed awake for the rest of the night thinking of ways to get rid of it."

This simple line struck me in the very beginning of the story. It's so poignant; it's that moment when you realize you're different and you never noticed it before. It reminds me of a child's loss of innocence, when a child realizes that he or she is not the same as others and discovers discrimination, or racism,
Three interweaved stories culminate into a surprising and thought provoking climax in Gene Luen Yang’s “American Born Chinese.” This colorful graphic novel blends the tales of a Monkey King (an old Chinese fable), Jin Wang (a young Chinese American boy fighting a negative stereotype) and Chin-Kee (the literal stereotype Jin is trying to admonish). Yang cleverly explores the socially sensitive issues of self acceptance through their tales. The alternating accounts of transformation are animated i ...more
I felt prepared to hate the graphic novel American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. Why? Because satire is a tricky business; not everyone gets it. And for those who don’t, what is meant to ridicule can instead promote. Case in point, the 1970′s sitcom All in the Family was intended to ridicule prejudice, but some viewers missed the point and saw Archie as a champion of American values rather than as a myopic buffoon. Having now read American Born Chinese, I better understand its success among fa ...more
Sunny Stone
Love this book!!! Great drawing and great designed plot. I enjoyed Yang's adaptation of the "pilgrimage to the west," and think he's wise to connect three seem-like irelevant stories with each other, which was a great suprise to see in the end.
I took an Asian American study class last summer,from which I realized it's never been easy for an Asian American to grow up in the United States. He or she may more or less subject to confusion by their looks. However, I learned it as an absolute bysta
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American Born Chinese 1 7 May 27, 2015 06:18AM  
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Gene Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. In 1997, he received the Xeric Grant, a prestigious comics industry grant, for Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks, his first comics work as an adult. He has since written and drawn a number of titles, including Duncan's Kingdom (with art by Derek Kirk Kim) and The Rosary Comic Book. American Born Chinese received National Book Award.

More about Gene Luen Yang...
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search, Part 1 (The Search, #1) Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 1 (The Promise, #1) Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift, Part 1 (The Rift, #1) Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 2 (The Promise, #2) Boxers (Boxers & Saints, #1)

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“It's easy to become anything you wish . . . so long as you're willing to forfeit your soul.” 53 likes
"So what am I supposed to do now?"

"You know, Jin, I would have saved myself from five hundred years' imprisonment beneath a mountain of rock had I only realized how good it is to be a monkey."

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