American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese is a story in three parts: legend of the The Monkey King, American sit-com “Everybody Ruvs Chin-Kee”, and a seemingly-straightforward biography of Jin, a first generation American of a Taiwanese mom and a Chinese dad. However, glance at the bright comic colors, scan the irreverent humor (I don’t think Lao Tzu is talking about peaches), and one might miss the underlying sophistication of this novel. The three stories appear separate but all run with a common theme: identity and acceptance.

Read an interview with the author/illustrator Gene Luen Yang.

Guiding Questions

  1. What is the significance of the Transformer exchange Jin has with the herbalist   (p 27-29)? (Hint (spoiler?): What’s foreshadowing?)
  2. How is Tze-Yo-Tzuh (“He who is”) an allegory for the God of the Bible?

Character thumbnails

  1. What are the identifying characteristics of The Monkey King? What does he want? What stands in the way of his goal? What is he going to do about it?
  2. What are the identifying characteristics of Jin? What does he want? What stands in the way of his goal? What is he going to do about it?

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