My America: Gene Luen Yang
Award-winning writer and cartoonist GENE LUEN YANG discusses his Asian-American upbringing and his first nonfiction graphic novel, Dragon Hoops, presented in conjunction with the AWM’s special exhibit My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today. In Dragon Hoops, Yang focuses on his own life, his family, and the high school where he teaches, telling the story of the basketball team’s championship run.
This program is part of the Jeanne M. & John W. Rowe program series, a series of conversations with leading contemporary writers about their latest work and their thoughts on themes of identity, home, belonging and the meaning of what it is to be American.
More about Dragon Hoops:
Gene understands stories—comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins.
But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it’s all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships.
Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. He knows he has to follow this epic to its end. What he doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’s lives, but his own life as well.
GENE LUEN YANG began making comics and graphic novels in the fifth grade. In 2006, his book American Born Chinese became 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 – New. In 2013, he released Boxers & Saints, a two-volume graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion, which was nominated for a National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Prize. He’s done a number of other comics, including Dark Horse Comics’ continuation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender and DC Comics’ Superman! Gene is also the former U.S. Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and a 2016 MacArthur Fellow.