Auntie Po

The finalists for the National Book Awards were announced this morning, and something that has happened only seven times before happened: a graphic novel was a finalist.

Shing Yin Khor’s The Legend of Auntie Po was a finalist in the Young People’s Literature category. It joins American Born Chinese, Stitches, Boxer and Saints, Nimona, Hey, Kiddo and, the only graphic novel to have won a National Book Award, March: Book Three on this exclusive list.

Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant is the sole GN finalist outside the Young People’s category.

Auntie Po is a deserving addition to this elite list: set in an 1880’s logging camp, the story follow thirteen-year-old Mei as she learns about identity, fantasy and who gets to make myths as she transforms Paul Bunyan into Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), a Chinese heroine with a very big ax. With a sharp look at the history of the shameful Chinese Exclusion Act, and a sweet queer narrative, The Legend of Auntie Po is both timely and timeless…and sure to find a place on many bookshelves in the years to come. 

Other nominees in the category:

Young People’s Literature

  • Shing Yin KhorThe Legend of Auntie Po
  • Malinda LoLast Night at the Telegraph Club
  • Kyle LukoffToo Bright to See
  • Kekla MagoonRevolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People
  • Amber McBrideMe (Moth)

You can read Avery Kaplan’s interview with Khor here and a review of the book here.

And here’s a discussion with me, Jimmy Aquino, Khor and Trung Lê Capecchi-Nguyễn on our livestream Comic Beat Insider about their stories, kids lit, Khor’s love of giant statues and much more.

Finally, it has been 12 months of triumph for Shing Yin Khor. Not only are they a NBA finalist….they made the best T-shirt of the year.