I did it. I started my writer’s conference reading list. And I had a really good experience with the first book.
My first experience with Yang was at Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Writing a few years back where he gave a talk on why traditional writers should give graphic novels a chance. He gave an impressive talk and I remember walking away from his session buzzing with ideas of integrating elements of graphic novel format into some of my own stories.
Most recently, Gene Luen Yang came back to the Calvin’s writer’s conference and gave a talk entitled, “Is Art Selfish?” in which he delved into his own experiences of writing comic books and how that conflicts with the realities of day-to-day life. Again, it was a great talk that hit me right where I live, but I had yet to read one of his books.
While at the library recently, I picked up a copy of American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.
I already had a few ideas of what to expect from what I’d heard about his life through his speaking sessions, but I was still blown away by this book. Yang is an artist of the highest form, able to weave three separate tales connected by a nice twist at the end. When you consider the fact that not only did he write the story and the dialogue, but he provided the images for the book as well, you have to agree with the numerous institutions that gave Yang award for this work (Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, National Book Award Finalist, Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year, and others), that the man knows what he is doing.
You don’t have to be Chinese in order to appreciate this story. All you need is to have felt like an outsider at one time in your life, and this book will hit you as hard as it hit me.
Go find a copy today!