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Author and Illustrator Gene Luen Yang on the Challenges of Writing Outside Your Culture

“Can you write a character who is very different from you?” Author and Illustrator Gene Luen Yang gets this question over and over in the classes he teaches adults. He says that the job of a writer is to go outside one’s own skin, but he also believes that it is troublingfor the landscape of American literature as a wholeif the vast majority of books that talk about a particular life experience are not written by people who have actually lived that life experience.

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Gene Luen Yang

Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Nonfiction, Graphic Novels

Gene Luen Yang

Gene Luen Yang writes, and sometimes draws, comic books and graphic novels. American Born Chinese  — a memoir about growing up as an Asian American — became the first graphic novel to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award and a National Book Award finalist. His two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints  won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award finalist. His other works include Dragon Hoops , the Secret Coders series  (with Mike Holmes), The Shadow Hero  (with Sonny Liew), New Super-Man from DC Comics (with various artists), and the Avatar: The Last Airbender  series from Dark Horse Comics (with Gurihiru) and Superman Smashes the Klan (with Gurihiru).

In 2016, Yang was named the 5th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and selected as a MacArthur Fellow.