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by Gene Luen Yang

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Gene Luen Yang is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and is a MacArthur Fellow, a recipient of what's popularly known as the MacArthur "Genius" Grant.

A New York Times bestseller

China,1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.

Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing


Gene Luen Yang is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and is a MacArthur Fellow, a recipient of what's popularly known as the MacArthur "Genius" Grant.

A New York Times bestseller

China,1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.

Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers - commoners trained in kung fu who fight to free China from "foreign devils."

Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of "secondary devils" - Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.

Boxers & Saints is an innovative new graphic novel in two volumes - the parallel stories of two young people caught up on opposite sides of a violent rift. American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang brings his clear-eyed storytelling and trademark magical realism to the complexities of the Boxer Rebellion and lays bare the foundations of extremism, rebellion, and faith.

Discover the other side of the Boxer Rebellion in Saints - the companion volume to Boxers.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Wesley Yang
The indie comic artist Gene Luen Yang, a child of Taiwanese immigrants to the United States and an observant Roman Catholic, wrestles with the central ambiguity of colonialism throughout his remarkable set of linked graphic novels, Boxers and Saints…The nuance conveyed in the dialectical design of the companion volumes counteracts the mythmaking that can result from combining history and fable in comic book form.
Publishers Weekly
★ 08/12/2013
With a superbly executed “diptych” of graphic novels, Yang (American Born Chinese) employs parallel storylines to represent two opposing Chinese experiences during the Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the 20th century. Raised in an impoverished rural village, Little Bao and his older brothers embark on a crusade to save China from Christian missionaries and other “foreign devils” who are perceived to be the cause of their country’s woes. What begins as a righteous march to the capital, bolstered by Little Bao’s recurring visions of a pantheon of Chinese gods, quickly escalates in violence and rhetoric. By the time Little Bao and his amassed army, dubbed the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist, reach the occupied city of Peking, morale is strained and the line between right and wrong has blurred. Yang doesn’t shy from the ensuing bloodshed (beheadings are not uncommon), yet moments of lightheartedness and potential romance humanize the combatants, even as their campaigns take on zealous dimensions. Yang’s artwork and storytelling are sober and accessible, and his character-driven approach brings compassion to a complex historical clash. Ages 12–up. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary Agency. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“A masterful work of historical fiction that happens to be in the form of a graphic novel, and a very accessible view into a complicated moment in Chinese history.” —Dave Eggers

“In Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang once again masterfully draws us into the most difficult issues of self-identity and communal understanding,with characters who struggle to act out of their deepestcultural and spiritual selves. But when they findthat their commitments lead them in terrible, frightening directions--one towardmassacres, another toward martyrdom--they must ask questions for whichthere are no easy answers. The brilliance of this novel--and I mean, aside from the brilliancein the telling of a major historical episode about whichmost North Americans know very little and whichprovides somecritical lessons in political relationships--the brilliance lies in the merger of fast action and humor and very real characters and startling graphics witha shattering senseof the brokenness of the world andour terrible need for compassion. Read this, and come away shaking.” —National Book AwardFinalist and Newbery Honor winner Gary Schmidt, author of Okay for Now and The Wednesday Wars

Children's Literature - Hazel Buys
In the closing years of the nineteenth century, foreign influence created increasing unrest in China. Groups of commoners trained in King Fu, called “Boxers” by westerners, organized resistance under the Righteous Harmony Society movement. This volume tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion from the point of view of a young peasant, Little Bao, who leads a group of Boxers against the foreigners, initially to great success. Steeped in ancient Chinese mysticism and mythology, Little Bao uses the powers of ancient Chinese gods and goddesses to gather an army and move against the foreigners. Outrage against injustice turns to blind vengeance and the peasant army is ultimately defeated. Yang blends the legends of old China, personified by characters from Chinese opera, with the deep, simmering resentment and outrage of the oppressed people of China. This volatile mix creates a story that is a credit to neither side. The illustration style uses black outlines and flat, muted color throughout most of the images, saving the brightest, most varied colors for the depictions of the mythical gods and goddesses. These color decisions add an interesting subtext to the story. The lives of the peasants are reduced to the basic activities necessary to sustain life, relieved only by the rich and vibrantly-imagined world of the deities. One caveat: the cultural norms of this time in China regarded girls and women as second-class citizens. The text makes references to female functions and the bizarre use of female bodily fluids that some might consider distasteful and disrespectful. One of the innovative two-volume set, “Boxers & Saints,” Boxers is winner of the Michael L. Printz award and was a National Book award finalist. The companion book, Saints, tells the other side of the story. The set would be a good addition to a library’s resources on European-Asian history of the early nineteenth century or a class on east-west relations after the arrival of western missionaries in China. Reviewer: Hazel Buys; Ages 14 up.

Product Details

First Second
Publication date:
Boxers & Saints Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Gene Luen Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. He was an established figure in the indie comics scene when he published his first book with First Second, American Born Chinese, which is now in print in over ten languages. American Born Chinese's critical and commercial success, along with its status as a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Printz Award, catapulted Yang into stardom as a major voice of our times. His most recent book is the New York Times Best-Selling graphic novel diptych Boxers & Saints.

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