mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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Hair-Into-Clones! (95)

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

Lion, Ox, Eagle, Human,
The heralds of the Great God.
Features of the Sphinx.

Having enjoyed Prime Baby & Level Up I figured I might as well go ahead & read the book that brought him onto the main stage! That was before it was announced that Gene Luen Yang would be writing the Avatar: the Last Airbender comics-- that news sealed it. It was time to crack in & see what all the fuss was about. American Born Chinese follows three storylines-- the saga of The Monkey King, fresh in my mind from his appearance in Master of Devils; the biography of a second generation Chinese-American child, Jin Wang & a spoof of sitcom where the white Danny is visited by his "cousin," Chin-Kee, an offensive stereotype of Asian caricatures, all to plausible in a world where Perfect Strangers existed. The Monkey King's story is the most fanciful & fun, of course, & I couldn't help but read it with an eye on how Yang will portray Aang, Katara, Sokka, et al. Plus, it has my favorite story about the Monkey King-- the five pillars at the edge of the world-- but with Buddha replaced by "Tze-Yo-Tzuh," a stand-in for the Christian God. The three story-lines weave together at the end to deliver the message of the story in a way that wryly avoids the pitfalls of moralizing. I can see why this gets the attention it does-- it isn't the cheap melodrama of a lot of stories about immigration. It belongs in the company of my second favorite immigrant story, Shaun Tan's The Arrival. My first favorite immigrant tale? Why, Superman, of course!
Tags: books, comics, haiku, yang
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