GBBP 126: Gene Luen Yang

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The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, Episode 126: Gene Luen Yang

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This week, we’re thrilled to finally welcome Gene Luen Yang to the show—in style! I can’t believe it’s taken us this long to have him on the GBBP.

We’ve written about Yang’s work extensively here on GeekDad. American Born Chinese, Secret Coders, and Boxers & Saints are all favorites. In a shameless bit of promotion, I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that my daughter interviewed Gene a few years ago at the National Book Festival. Obviously, her interview is far cuter than this week’s episode, but we try.

But why is this episode done in style? Yang was recently at the Library of Congress for an event with Carla Hayden (the Librarian of Congress) about his Reading Without Walls initiative. He and I had a chance to sit down after that event and chat for the podcast. It’s probably the fanciest location where this show will ever record.

Yang’s books have been nominated for the National Book Award (American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for the award) and pretty much every other major literary award. He’s won the Eisner, is currently the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and recently was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. He’s kind of a big deal.

Reading Without Walls is Yang’s focus for his two-year stint at National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. We discuss it on this episode, and I’ll write it about it (and the event at the Library of Congress) more extensively later this week.

On this episode, though, we talk about the initiative and the response it’s gotten, getting more kids and families into libraries, writing outside of your lived experiences, working through rejection, and combating gendered labels and stereotypes when it comes to books.


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