Saturday, November 16, 2013

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang


Review by Victoria Dixon

     "Boxers" is the story of Little Bao, a member of the Boxer Rebellion and leader of the Boxer fight against Western influence in China. 
     The basic premise is, after his father is beaten senseless by Westerners, Little Bao is inducted into the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists (the Boxers). He leads his brother disciples against the foreign invaders and their religion. 
     I won't lie and say this novel softens the story by being a graphic novel/comic book. The author is unsparing in his treatment of atrocities performed on both sides of this conflict. The Christians/Invaders are frequently cruel - even to their Chinese converts - and the Chinese respond in kind, but not without an awareness of their own hypocrisy. 
     There were no victors in this war - just victims and perpetrators. That said, "Boxers" is an extraordinary, perhaps transcendent piece of art - unrelenting in its storytelling, truth and inevitable conclusion. I expect much the same from the parallel novel, "Saints," which tells the story of Vibiana, a Chinese convert who appears within Little Bao's tale. 
     If you enjoy gut-wrenching story telling within a historical context, it doesn't get much better than this.

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