Admittedly, I probably should have tried out a different author from my Writers Conference Reading List, but after I so enjoyed American Born Chinese, I stuck with Gene Yang and picked up Boxers and Saints from my local library. I’m glad I did.
Companion copies to each other (though readers should read Boxers first), Boxers and Saints tells both sides of China’s Boxer Rebellion from just over a century ago.
I’m a bit embarrassed to say that prior to reading these books, I couldn’t have told you two things about the Boxer Rebellion. Now, I can tell you that the rebellion was a direct response to the intrusion of Western values and vices on traditional Chinese culture. Could there be a better time for this historical graphic novel, as China continues to grapple with Western influences through the influx of automobiles, the internet, and a growing middle class?
With flashes of humor amidst a serious issue, Yang shows off his skills by writing a balanced approach to a historical event that could easily be oversimplified as us-versus-them or right-versus-wrong (and no conflict is ever that simple). Boxers and Saints follow in the footsteps of American Born Chinese in helping Western culture engage with the East in a respectful way.
And like American Born Chinese, these books have received numerous awards and commendations from all over the publishing industry.
Why not put down whatever book you are reading and spend a few hours with Gene Yang? You’ll be glad you did.