American Born Chinese
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American Born Chinese

4.1 75
by Gene Luen Yang, Lark Pien, Lark Pien
     
 

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All Jin Wang wants is to fit in...
When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl...
Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world,

Overview

All Jin Wang wants is to fit in...
When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl...
Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god...
Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a basketball player, a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse...
These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist, in a modern fable that is hilarious, poignant, and action-packed. American Born Chinese is an amazing ride, all the way up to the astonishing climax - and confirms what a growing number of readers already know: Gene Yang is a major talent.

Editorial Reviews

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 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - George Galuschak
American Born Chinese is a graphic novel that tells the story of two protagonists. The Monkey King is a figure from Chinese folklore. Angry at not being admitted to a Heavenly Dinner Party because he isn't wearing shoes, the Monkey King masters the twelve disciplines of Kung Fu and sets about proving that he is a god to his fellow deities. He does this by beating up anyone who calls him a monkey. Danny, an Asian boy drawn with white features, wants to be like the rest of the kids in his high school. Unfortunately, the arrival of his cousin from China, Chin-Kee, dashes his hopes. Chin-Kee is every cliche about Chinese people (pronounce his name phonetically) rolled into one fun-filled package. Chin-Kee is so full of fun that a laugh track follows him around, but Danny, who has transferred out of two high schools already because of Chin-Kee's past antics, isn't laughing. There is also a third storyline featuring Jin Wang (Danny in junior high) and his best friend, Wei-Chen Sun. This is one of the best graphic novels I've read this year. It reminds me of Derek Kirk Kim's excellent Same Difference & Other Stories, which is also worth purchasing. The three storylines are interrelated, and all have the same theme: accept who you are. Be warned that the character of Chin-Kee will arouse strong feelings: some may find him offensive while others may think he's funny. American Born Chinese contains racial stereotypes, comic book violence, and one urinating monkey (from the back). It is highly recommended for all graphic novel collections.
VOYA - Sherrie Williams
Three seemingly unrelated stories blend into a memorable tale of growing up Chinese American. The book begins with the ancient fable of the Monkey King, the proud leader of the monkeys. He is punished for entering the god's dinner party by being buried under a mountain for five hundred years. Second is the story of Jin Wang, the son of immigrants struggling to retain his Chinese identity while longing to be more Americanized. The final story is that of Cousin Chin-Kee, an amalgamation of the worst Chinese stereotypes. Chin-Kee yearly visits his all-American cousin Danny, causing so much embarrassment that Danny must change schools. The final chapter unifies the three tales into one version of what it means to be American-born Chinese. This graphic novel first appeared as a long running Web comic on the Moderntales website, where it enjoyed an enthusiastic following. The artwork is clean and distinctive, with varying panel styles and inking that is visually appealing. The Cousin Chin-Kee story line is extremely hyperbolic and at times difficult to read, as it embraces the most extreme negative Chinese stereotypes, but it displays some of the difficulties in perception faced by young Chinese Americans. This graphic novel could be especially cathartic for teens and adults of Asian descent, but people of any ethnicity would find themselves reflected in the universal themes of self-acceptance, peer pressure, and racial tensions. This book is recommended for libraries serving teens and adults, particularly those enjoying graphic novels.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Graphic novels that focus on nonwhite characters are exceedingly rare in American comics. Enter American Born Chinese, a well-crafted work that aptly explores issues of self-image, cultural identity, transformation, and self-acceptance. In a series of three linked tales, the central characters are introduced: Jin Wang, a teen who meets with ridicule and social isolation when his family moves from San Francisco s Chinatown to an exclusively white suburb; Danny, a popular blond, blue-eyed high school jock whose social status is jeopardized when his goofy, embarrassing Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee, enrolls at his high school; and the Monkey King who, unsatisfied with his current sovereign, desperately longs to be elevated to the status of a god. Their stories converge into a satisfying coming-of-age novel that aptly blends traditional Chinese fables and legends with bathroom humor, action figures, and playground politics. Yang s crisp line drawings, linear panel arrangement, and muted colors provide a strong visual complement to the textual narrative. Like Toni Morrison s The Bluest Eye and Laurence Yep s Dragonwings, this novel explores the impact of the American dream on those outside the dominant culture in a finely wrought story that is an effective combination of humor and drama.-Philip Charles Crawford, Essex High School, Essex Junction, VT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

“Gene Luen Yang has created that rare article: a youthful tale with something new to say about American youth.” —New York Times Book Review

“Like Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and Laurence Yep's Dragonwings, this novel explores the impact of the American dream on those outside the dominant culture in a finely wrought story that is an effective combination of humor and drama.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review

“. . . brilliantly written and designed, sophisticated and wise.” —The Miami Herald

“. . . one of the most powerful and entertaining works of literature to be published this year . . .” —The San Francisco Chronicle

“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.” —Publishers Weekly

“Kids fighting an uphill battle to convince parents and teachers of the literary merit of graphic novels will do well to share this title.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Each of the characters is flawed but familiar, and, in a clever postmodern twist, all share a deep, unforeseen connection. Yang helps the humor shine by using his art to exaggerate or oppose the words, creating a synthesis that marks an accomplished graphic storyteller. The stories have a simple, engaging sweep to them, but their weighty subjects––shame, racism, and friendship––receive thoughtful, powerful examination.” —Booklist

“This graphic novel could be especially cathartic for teens and adults of Asian descent, but people of any ethnicity would find themselves reflected in the universal themes of self-acceptance, peer pressure, and racial tensions.” —Voice of Youth Advocates

Library Journal
06/01/2014
Jin Wang is the only Asian American boy in his new school; Danny is a young man deeply embarrassed by his visiting Chinese cousin, portrayed deliberately by the author as an ethnic cliché; and the Monkey King, a figure from Chinese lore, is desperate to be treated like a god. This humorous, insightful story relates how three characters overcome hurdles to find satisfaction within themselves. A wonderful take on the coming-of-age genre and the challenges of assimilation. (LJ 3/15/07)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596431522
Publisher:
First Second
Publication date:
09/05/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
493,782
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.41(h) x 0.53(d)
Lexile:
GN530L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

American Born Chinese


By Gene Luen Yang

Roaring Brook Press

Copyright © 2006 Gene Yang
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59643-152-2



CHAPTER 1

ONE BRIGHT ANS STARRY NIGHT, THE GODS, THE GODDESSES, THE DEMONS AND THE SPIRITS GATHERED IN HEAVEN FOR A DINNER PARTY.

YOUR PEACHES ARE LOOKING ESPECIALLY PLUMP TODAY, MY DEAR!

TEE HEE! OH STOP IT, LAO-TZU!

I DON'T MEAN TO BOAST, BUT THAT THUNDERSTORM I PUT TOGETHER LAST NIGHT IMPRESSED EVEN MYSELF!

THEIR MUSIC AND THE SCENT OF THEIR WINE DRIFTED DOWN ...

... DOWN ...

... DOWN ...

... TO FLOWER-FRUIT MOUNTAIN ...

... WHERE FLOWERS BLOOMED ROUND ...

... AND FRUITS HUNG HEAVY NECTAR ...

... AND MONKEYS PROLICKED UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF THE MAGICAL MONKEY KING.

NOW THE MONKEY KING WAS A DEITY IN HIS OWN RIGHT.

LEGEND HAD IT THAT LONG AGO, LONG BEFORE ALMOST ANY MONKEY COULD REMEMBER, THE MONKEY KING WAS BORN OF A ROCK.

WHEN HIS EYES FIRST OPENDED, THEY FLAGHED RAYS OF LIGHT DEEP INTO THE SKY.

ALL OF HEAVEN TOOK NOTICE.

WHAT THE-?

SOON AFTER, HE PURGED FLOWER-FRUIT MOUNTAIN OF THE TIGER-SPIRIT THAT HAD HAUNTED IT FOR CENTURIES.

HE ESTABLISHED HIS KINGDOM AND MONKEYS FROM THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE WORLD FLOCKED TO HIM.


THE MONKEY KING RULED WITH A FIRM BUT GENTLE HAND.

PLAY NICE.

HE SPEND HIS DAYS STUDYING THE ARTS OF KUNG-FU. JE QUICKLY MASTERED THOUSANDS OF MINOR DISCIPLINES AS WELL AS THE FOUR MAJOR HEAVENLY DISCIPLINES, PREREQUISITES TO IMMORTALITY.

DISCIPLINE ONE: FIRST-LIKE-LIGHTNING

DISCIPLINE TWO: THUNDEROUS FOOT

DISCIPLINE THREE: HEAVENLY SENSES

A DINNER PARTY!

THE MONKEY KING LIKED DINNER PARTIES VERY MUCH.

MY DEAR SUBJECTS, I MUST TAKE LEAVE OF YOU TONIGHT FOR THERE IS A VERY IMPORTANT PARTY I MUST ATTEND.

DISCIPLINE FOUR: COULD-AS-STEED

THE MONKEY KING WAITED IN LINE FOR WHAT SEEMED LIKE AN ETERNITY.

HE FIDGETED THIS WAY AND THAT (MONKEYS JUST AREN'T VERY GOOD AT WAITING) BUT FORCED HIMSELF TO STAY IN LINE.

ALL THE WHILE HE THOUGHT ABOUT HOW MUCH HE LIKED DINNER PARTIES.


BY THE TIME THE MONKEY KING ARRIVED AT THE FRONT GATE. HE WAS BESIDE HIMSELF WITH ANTICIPATION.

ANNOUNCING THE ARRIVAL OF AO-JUN. THE DRAGON KING OF THE WESTERN SEA!

"AHEM" PARDON ME SIR, BUT MIGHT YOU STEP THIS WAY FOR A MOMENT?

OH, I'M SORRY.


YOU MAY ANNOUNCE THAT I AM THE MONKEY KING OF FLOWER-FRUIT MOUNTAIN!

YES, YES, I APOLOGIZE PROFUSELY SIR, BUT I CANNOT LEY YOU IN.


YOU HAVEN'T ANY SHOES.

BUT THERE MUST BE SOME MISTAKE! I AM THE SOVEREIGN RULER OF FLOWER-FRUIT MOUNTAIN, WHERE THE FLOWERS BLOOM YEAR ROUND AND THE FRUITS HANG HEAVY WITH NECTAR!

THOUSANDS OF SUBJECTS PLEDGE LOYALTY TO ME.

I, TOO. AM A DEITY! I AM A COMMITTED DISCIPLINE OF THE ARTS OF KUNG-FU AND I HAVE MASTERED THE FOUR MAJOR HEAVENLY DISCIPLINES, PREREQUISITES TO IMMORTALITY!


(Continues...)

Excerpted from American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. Copyright © 2006 Gene Yang. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Gene Luen 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. He has since written and drawn a number of titles, including Duncan's Kingdom (with art by Derek Kirk Kim), The Rosary Comic Book, Prime Baby and Animal Crackers. American Born Chinese, his first graphic novel from First Second, was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. He also won an Eisner for The Eternal Smile, a collaboration with Derek Kirk Kim. Yang lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he teaches high school.

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American Born Chinese 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 75 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This graphic novel is much more than it may seem- simply just a graphic novel. While on the surface it is an interesting tale about a boy that doesn't fit in, underneath the surface there lies a whole world of myth and legend, individuality, cultural and self acceptance. An absolute must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book starts out as a mythological story then envelops into a new era , bringing in the other characters of the book, showing how the main characters all have something in common. This books shows that being yourself is always something to consider, but if you dont read the book you will not understand what I am trying to say. GREAT BOOK and GREAT MEANING.
Agent_A More than 1 year ago
Three characters, three stories, one graphic novel. Each and everyone of them wants to fit in. The first character is Jin-Wang, who is an American-Chinese elementary and middle school student. He is a pretty realistic character, but I find her an unimpressive, strange person. He does some unusual things, such as using soap as deodorant, and the general story is a bit awkward, since it focuses on the bad parts of his life. Then there's my favorite character, the Monkey King of the Flower Fruit Mountain. He wishes to be a god, but he isn't allowed to since he was a monkey, even though he had mastered the twelve arts of Kung-fu. He is a very funny character, and his story is quite interesting. I like him, except for the fact that the author shows him as a denying character, when he begs and fights to become a god. But he's still a classic cartoon character. The last character is Danny, who is an american high-schooler, but is also someone who seems to be very sad and complaining. Every year, his cousin Chin-kee visits him from China. He ruins everything for Danny, with his teachers and his friends. I personally don't like him, since he is too emotional about what Chin-kee does (although I hated Chin-kee because of how he treated other characters). Overall, this graphic novel is a bit immature, and I wasn't extremely impressed by it. It sort of gave me a bad image of graphic novels, so I'm not planning on reading another one soon (but maybe I'm stereotyping graphic novels). Oh well, it was still a fun break from the rest of my books.
Cambear More than 1 year ago
The novel starts out with several different threads and eventually weaves them together with a strong statement about acculturation, assimilalation, immigration and repression. Lots of major themes explored effectively and effeciently with the expressive (and sometimes adorable) artwork. There aren't a lot of stories about the Asian immigration experience so any story, especially one so creative and articulate, is an important piece.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A monkey and a boy share one common goal, to fit in. Another boy who has everything gets his social life destroyed every year by his FOB cousin. In American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang which has won numerous awards including but not limited to Npr Holiday Pick, Publishers Weekly Comics Week Best Comic of the Year, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. The New York Times book review says that, “it is a youthful tale with something new to say about American youth.” The monkey king thinks he should be a god so he goes to the goods party and is kicked out. He gets mad so he learns how to shape shift but is punished for changing his form. The head god traps him for 500 years under rocks. He is waiting under the rocks for someone to come save him but he doesn’t realize that he can get out easily if he wasn’t so selfish. When the Chinese boy gets to America he is out casted by his peers. In the turmoil he finds a friend, someone who is in his same situation. They go through everything together thick and thin. The all American boy Danny who has the bad cousin is always getting embarrassed by him at every school, he has to move away every year after his cousin comes. He despises his cousin or even hates him everything he does he hates but he doesn’t know his inner most dark secret. I think this is a very good read for young adults aka highschoolers/middleschoolers it is an easy read with a great lesson for any one no matter whom you are it can always relate to the person reading. The biggest theme in the book is that one must be themselves, they must not change their inner most being for the sake of someone or peoples opinion. For example in the book when the monkey king wants to be a god he shape shifts into the form of a human, which is quite literally being something you are not, because of this mistake he is punished mercilessly by Tze-Yo-Tzuh and imprisoned under a mountain. Another example is when Jin Wang tries to be an American instead of Chinese his life is good at first just like the monkey but soon everything falls apart. This book is extremely good for many other reasons besides the theme, one of these reasons is that it is very funny. An example of this is when Chin-Kee (Danny’s cousin) goes pee in one of his friend’s cokes or when he comes to school eating dog and talking in a ridiculously thick chinese accent. Another example is when Jin Wang is playing with a kid from school and they pretend to be Jewish and put bras on their head and use them as Yamahas. This book American Born Chinese is a somewhat recent book published in 2006. This means it focuses on actual problems that this generation have with being unique, because of this it is one of my favorite books I’ve read in a long time and surprisingly one of the shortest. Will the monkey king ever change his ways? Will Danny ever accept his cousin? Will Jin Wang ever get his wish about being American, find this out and more by reading American Born Chinese, a great book for young readers and a great message for any one.
JimRGill2012 More than 1 year ago
Gene Luen Yang’s graphic narrative combines elements of autobiography, Chinese mythology, and magical realism to create a tale of “othered” youth to which any young adult or adult who has ever struggled with the dilemma of assimilation should be able to relate. Yang adds ample doses of snarky humor to his intricately woven narrative, which seems to develop along three distinct strands. The narrative opens with the tale of the Monkey King, a Chinese mythological figure who feels slighted by the more powerful gods and resolves to prove his power and might. Next we meet Jin, the American-born Chinese of the title. We follow Jin’s tale through middle school as he endeavors to identify as a member of “mainstream” American youth by avoiding fellow Asian students, adopting an “American” hairstyle, and dating a Caucasian girl in his class. The final narrative strand focuses on Danny, a white American teenager who is bedeviled by annual visits from his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee, who behaves in stereotypically boorish ways and alienates Danny from his peers. Yang ultimately conjoins the three strands in a way that highlights the complexities of ethnic identity—and Identity in general—that confront American youth, especially those who are visibly “other.” Yang’s skill in highlighting this issue in metaphorically powerful ways is quite effective and should lead to some difficult but important questions from both young adult and adult readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lovelybookshelf More than 1 year ago
American Born Chinese consists of three tandem narratives. A second generation immigrant and the only Chinese-American student at his new school in a predominantly white area, Jin Wang just wants to be a typical American boy. The immortal Monkey King is a proud kung fu master who is trying to become more than just a monkey. And all-American Danny is embarrassed by his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee, who puts every Chinese stereotype into loud, off-putting action. As I read along, I wondered what, if anything, these storylines had to do with each other. Were they merely different perspectives on common themes, since all three addressed issues such as racism and intolerance? When the connections between these three narratives were revealed: wow! I was stunned. An entirely new and profound layer of understanding opened up for me. I loved the artwork and the message of this one. Though aimed at grades 7 and up, it's a great selection for adults as well. It's an incredibly fast read, so it would be a nice pick for a read-a-thon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story, art, characters etc! Didn't want to end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was utterly amazing, being a color graphic novel was exceptional. While I was reading it I couldn't help but laugh, when I found myself finished with it I was pretty upset. The characters are all very well thought out and I love all of them. So please read this book if you're looking for not only a funny read but a quick one too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What the jell!
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G.L.Y .youve done it agian.
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It had so much action and different stuff and more stuff. It goes from this to that, back this, back to that, then it combines all together in the end.
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Tuss_89 More than 1 year ago
I would highly recommend this book to anyone in the teen age group. It is a very good book, based on how every teen want's to either be somebody else or change who they are. And in the end they always find out that their true personality will always be golden.