English / USA

Boxers & Saints

Yang, Gene Luen (text/illus.)
Pien, Lark (colouring)
New York: First Second, 2013. – 2 vols.,
328 p. + 170 p.
ISBN 978-1-59643-359-5, 978-1-59643-689-3

China / 1900 | Colonialism | Imperialism | Boxer Rebellion | Identity | Religion | Historical fiction | Graphic novel

Yihetuan yundong, an anti-colonial movement in Northern China, was termed ≫Boxer Rebellion≪ due to the martial arts training of its followers. The subsequent punitive expedition by allied Western troops in 1900 resulted in its defeat. Until today this historical confl ict continues to shape Chinese foreign relations and concepts of a ≫Chinese identity≪. It provides the setting for this graphic novel narrated in two volumes from the perspectives of two opponents: Bao, the Boxer, hero, and essentially a terrorist, and Four-Girl, the Saint, a neglected girl who converts to Christianity and moves on to become a traitor and martyr. Th e story is framed by their two brief encounters: In the beginning, Bao falls in love with Four-Girl, and in the end, he kills her due to his convictions.

This work, winner of the 34th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature, raises issues of cultural, spiritual, and nationalist identities, of fundamentalist beliefs, and of the justifi cation of self-defense, violence, and killing. (Age: 12+)