I have argued with many about the need for historical context prior to reading literature. I prefer to find my way into a book first and then seek the historical background knowledge that I need. This graphic novel tested this belief. I know next to nothing about the Boxer’s Rebellion and only a bit about a China. (On top of that, I’m not too experienced with graphic novels.) Still, thanks for Yang’s brilliance (you have to read American Born Chinese), I found my way into this, the first part of his story of late 19th century China’s struggle to deal with increasing numbers of “foreign devils.” I am grateful that Yang offered suggestions for further reading. Because after I finish Saints, I intend to fill in the gaps.
As I said above, I’m not too well-versed with graphic novels and so I don’t always examine the art the way I should. Given that, though the art is evocative, I found few panels that were enhanced by careful inspection of the visuals. Maybe I still need to learn how to look.