Award-winning graphic novelist and literary ambassador Gene Luen Yang will spend three days in North Central Washington next month, visiting with students at six high schools and headlining a public event at the Wenatchee Convention Center on Nov. 8.
The author of "American Born Chinese" and writer of DC Comics New Superman series is currently serving as the Library of Congress's National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and was recently awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant.
North Central Regional Library is hosting Yang from Nov. 7-9, bringing him to high schools in Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Quincy, Moses Lake, Brewster and Omak. NCRL has provided copes of "American Born Chinese" — the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award — to the schools.
Yang will be the featured speaker at a free public event on Nov. 8 at the Wenatchee Convention Center. He will talk at 6 p.m., with a book signing to follow. The event will also feature a booth faire with NCRL's makerspace program, art installations by Eastmont High School students, A Book For All Seasons, Galaxy Comics, children's book author and illustrator Erik Brooks, Wenatchee Public Library, Wenatchee Mini Maker Faire, and more.
"NCRL is thrilled to welcome world-class author and artist Gene Luen Yang to Central Washington Schools and the Convention Center," said Angela Morris, NCRL's associate director of public services.
"We are committed to encouraging children and young people to love reading, so we are proud that Mr. Yang promotes the concept of 'exploring the world through books' through his work as Ambassador of Young People's Literature," Morris added.
As ambassador, Yang's platform is Reading Without Walls. He is challenging young readers to expand their horizons and read books featuring characters who don't look or live like themselves; books on a topic they know little about; and books in a format they don't normally read, such as graphic novels or books in verse.
Yang, the son of Chinese immigrants, often tackles issues of race in his books. In a recent interview with Comic Riffs, he said, "There are a lot of walls between cultures that reading can help bridge; reading is a way to get to know people on a deeper level."
He began making comics and graphic novels in fifth grade. He spent 17 years a science teacher in Oakland, Calif., as he pursued his work as an illustrator and graphic novel writer. In 2006, "American Born Chinese" was published, winning the American Library Association's Printz Award and an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album, in addition to being shortlisted for the National Book Award.
Later, his two-novel set, Boxers & Saints, was also nominated for a National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Prize.
He has also written a book series on coding and has written and illustrated several Superman comics, including the New Superman series.
In January, the 43-year-old was appointed the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. He was named a MacArthur Fellow and awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant last month.