Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints Makes the National Book Awards Longlist

The National Book Awards announced their Longlist in the category of Young People’s Literature and have included Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel diptych about the Boxer Rebellion, Boxers & Saints. Boxers & Saints is the only graphic novel to make the list.  This follows Yang’s American Born Chinese, the first graphic novel ever to be a finalist for the National Book Awards.

Boxers & Saints is one of the most ambitious graphic novels First Second has ever published. It offers a penetrating insight into not only one of the most controversial episodes of modern Chinese history, but into the very core of our human nature, tackling the difficult subjects of nationalism, faith, and coming-of-age. Gene Luen Yang is rightly called a master of the comics form, and he brings all his formidable talents to bear in this astonishing new work.

In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.  But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.

You can read the full list of nominees here. You can read our review of Boxers & Saints here.