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Author and Illustrator Gene Luen Yang on Seeing Our Common Humanity Through Books

Author and Illustrator Gene Luen Yang remembers finishing only one book in high school before the due date: Richard Wright’s Black Boy . Though very different from the main character on the surface, the author felt deeply connected as someone, too, had endured the outsiders experience. Mr. Yang believes that reading about someone who seems different , even on the surface, highlights our common humanity … one of the most powerful aspects of literature.

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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.