The 2015-16 Common Book is

The 2015-16 Common Book is "American Born Chinese"

Winona State's Common Book Project announces its selection for 2015-16: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese.  The Common Book Project brings together a large community of readers in the discussion of a single work.  

About the Book

American Born Chinese is a graphic novel that deftly weaves together three seemingly unrelated stories. One features Jin Wang, the son of Chinese immigrants to the US who is trying to fit in at a new school where he is bullied and ostracized because of his ethnicity. The arrival of a new kid from Taiwan complicates Jin’s efforts to transform himself into an all-American kid. Yang also retells the Chinese legend of the Monkey King, whose grand ambitions for power and immortality are hindered by the fact that he is just a monkey. The third story is about Danny, a popular all-American kid whose life is disrupted by the arrival of his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee, the embodiment of multiple Asian stereotypes; Danny is forced to transfer to a new school after Chin-Kee ruins his reputation. All three stories explore questions of identity and cultural stereotypes, and the stories eventually converge as the three characters work to resolve the identity crises and problems they face.

Published in 2006, American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album. In 2013, Yang published Boxers & Saints, a two-volume graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion; it was nominated for a National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Prize. Yang has written a number of other graphic novels, including the comics continuation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. In addition to his work as a cartoonist and graphic novelist, Yang has worked as a high school computer science teacher for nearly two decades. He also teaches creative writing through Hamline University’s MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

With its focus on identity, immigration, stereotypes in popular culture, and adolescence, American Born Chinese offers many opportunities for interdisciplinary inquiry and conversation. Yang’s exploration of immigration, race, and ethnicity will offer a valuable contribution to Winona State’s 2015-16 university-wide theme, “Equity as a Human Right: Building Inclusive Community.” As such, the book will be adopted in a range of classes as well as in many sections of first-year composition. 

Your Assignment...

If you choose to accept it is to read American Born Chinese. Incorporate what you take away from the book into your life while at the university. The book will be adopted in numerous sections of English 111, College Reading and Writing, and may be adopted in other courses as well. Use this opportunity to learn more about the greater community and turn your knowledge into action.

Where to Buy

American Born Chinese is published by First Second Books and will be available from the WSU Bookstore, The Book Shelf, and other booksellers. Additionally, a packet of teaching and contextual materials for prospective adopters will be available by midsummer.  Faculty adopters should simply list the book (ISBN 978-0312384487) on their book request form through the WSU Bookstore.  

Special Thanks

Funding for the Common Book Project has generously been made available by the Office of the Provost for Academic Affairs and the WSU Bookstore.  For more information about the project, please contact Prof. Ann-Marie Dunbar at