Young Adult Lit/Crit

January 27, 2008

Starting with ABC

Filed under: "American Born Chinese" — traverse02 @ 6:51 pm

Raph here.

I have just a few questions I’d like to pose to the class as we prepare to discuss Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese. First off, I am wondering if anyone can point out differences/similarities between the culture of the gods as represented in the first sequence relating the story of the Monkey-King and the classroom culture of which our main protagonist Jin Wang is a member?

Also, I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically at certain aspects of this book (ie. Jin Wang’s Justin Timberlake haircut, the fierce determination of the Monkey-King, and of course, Chin-kee). Why do you think Yang uses comedy to comment on such important themes of race, alienation, and self-discovery? How is it effective? How does the graphic novel form contribute to this quality?

Of course, race is a major issue in this text. Do you think Jin Wang is a racist character? Moreso than his peers in school? Think about how he judges characters of similar race and the construction/deconstruction of the characters Danny and Chin-Kee.

That is all for now. Can’t wait to see what you guys think of ABC.


PS. As I finish reading Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I notice how ABC is a very fitting companion in many ways… so I apologize if the questions here strike close to those addressed by Allison in her discussion of Alexei’s text.



  1. Raph, thanks for your post. I continue to see similarities between the two novels. The emphasis on the interloper in both books, the humor, the constructions of racial identit(ies), even the tone of the two books seems similar to me. Karen

    Comment by sunyprof — January 27, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

  2. Raph,
    Thanks for your points for discussion.
    I did not notice the connection between the gods and the classroom culture. I’m so glad you pointed it out, though, because I think if you have ever worked with kids, you see this happening. I’ll illustrate this with a VERY similar example. The group of kids with whom I work have a weekly “buffet” where they share food. To be included, you have to bring food. This reminds me of the dinner party of the deities in ABC. The kids who have the buffet always exclude one girl, though, and always seem to have a reason to leave her out (not bare feet or being a monkey, but other silly reasons). There are other kids who will sometimes be excluded, depending on the daily whims of the classroom deity. What do I do? Usually buy a bag of chips for the other kids to share so that they may join into the buffet.
    These occurrances in my own life made me realize the clever and universal quality the monkey parable. You don’t even have to be asian to relate to Jin.

    I really want to discuss race, but as INDIAN and ABC are so closely tied, I think I will wait. As a facilitator this week, I want to hear what others think first!

    Comment by allison — January 28, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

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