Book Review: Boxers & Saints

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Gene Luen Yang, a Chinese-American writer and illustrator, recently published two graphic novels telling the stories of two individuals caught up in the events of the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. The protagonist of Boxers is a young boy who becomes a leader in what Yang translates as the “Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist” (aka the Boxers). Saints is told from the perspective of a female Chinese convert to Catholicism.

In an interview with Wired, Yang said that he deliberately published the project in two separate volumes in order to “to reflect its dual nature.” In the same interview, he shares that he is Catholic, a fact I was unaware of when I read the books–and which reading the books did not lead to me to guess. In other words, I think that Yang did an excellent job of telling both sides of the story.

I think that the traditional gods (such as Tu Di Gong, the local land god) and the phenomenon of spirit/deity possession among the Boxers are treated respectfully. The artwork sample from Boxers accompanying the Wired interview includes one of the scenes depicting deity possession, if you’d like to see for yourself.

I highly recommend these two graphic novels. I read Boxers first, then Saints. While they are designed to be able to be read separately, Saints contains several interesting “twists” to the events in Boxers, so I would suggest reading them in the same order that I did.

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2 responses to “Book Review: Boxers & Saints

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