Adding yet another honor to its already crowded awards cabinet, Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints topped the eighth annual PW Comics World Critics poll with five votes. The two-volume graphic novel was nominated for this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (Yang’s second NBA nomination), garnering acclaim from every corner, so topping the poll comes as no surprise.
Boxers and Saints was also named one of the PW’s Best Books of 2013.
Yang’s historical tale won for its even-handed portrayal of China’s Boxer Rebellion as seen through the eyes of two young people drawn in on opposite sides of the war. In Boxers, Little Bao becomes caught up in the war against foreign devils and experiences bloody battles in the name of liberating his homeland. His opposite, Four-Girl of Saints, is a Christian convert who strives to protect her people against murderous, inhuman rebels. Through both stories—which intermingle in various tragic, ironic twists knowable only to readers—Yang captures the confused idealism that war often foists upon the most vulnerable young combatants. Like his previous modern classic, American Born Chinese—also nominated for an NBA—Yang uses cleanly efficient art and multi-leveled storytelling that employs fantasy sequences to reveal his character’s views on the world.