Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints, a two volume view of the Boxer Rebellion from both sides of the conflict, has made the long list for the 2013 National Book Awards in the Young People’s Literature category. Yang made the finalists in 2007 for American Born Chinese, and it’s quite an honor. Michael Cavna caught up with him for his reaction and in general it was happy. “It’s mind-blowing — it’s crazy,” he said. “I feel like I can’t even catch my breath. And all the books are amazing – I can’t believe I’m on the same list as Kathi Appelt and Kate DiCamillo!”
The NBAs are one of the most prestigious US book awards, and American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel ever shortlisted for the award. The longlist has been instituted for the first time this year in order to spotlight more deserving books. The five-title shortlists will be announced on Oct. 16, and winners on Nov. 20.
Boxers & Saints is an even more ambitious work than American Born Chinese, covering an obscure (to the US) war between the Chinese and Christian-driven forces in 1899-1901 from the viewpoints of two young people on either side of the conflict.
All the finalists in the category:
• Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
• Kate DiCamillo, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Candlewick Press)
• Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots (Philomel Books/Penguin Group USA)
• Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
• Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
• David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
• Tom McNeal, Far Far Away (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
• Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Group USA)
• Anne Ursu, The Real Boy (Walden Pond Press/HarperCollinsPublishers)
• Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan)
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.