As a quick break between novels and memoirs, I’m eating up Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, a graphic novel focusing on Jin Wang’s struggle between the two identities he has. Even though he was born in the United States, he wants to fit in with his American classmates. But while this story catches my attention, another story unfolds–that of a legendary monkey whose great power caused his downfall. And yet another story becomes interspersed one where an American boy is horrified to learn that his cousin, a Chinese boy that embodies the worst stereotypes of the culture, comes to visit.
It’s an enjoyable graphic novel. The Monkey King story sounded like something well-known in Chinese culture that I would be interested to read more about. I felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of Chin-Kee, the overly-stereotypical Chinese boy, but I believe that was the author’s purpose anyway. The multiple story lines were easy to follow they wove together in the end in a way that I didn’t completely expect.
In my current teaching load, a majority of my students are Chinese. This might be a helpful novel for them to understand and sympathize with the issue of one’s identity while living in the United States.