China at the turn of the 20th century. A culture being inundated with foreign religion, politics, and soldiers. Missionaries seek to convert villagers to Christianity, many by force. And in one little town, Bao is inspired to fight back. First, he learns king fu and then he learns to harness the power of the gods. He recruits an army to march on Peking, and that’s when things become complicated. Bao doesn’t know who to listen to or what strategies to use.
I read Yang’s American Born Chinese several years ago and loved it. Boxers shares some of the same themes of coming-of-age and warring cultures, but does so in an historical setting. Yang’s humor, which is much the same type as in ABC, is one of the best parts of the book. And I appreciate the magical realism that he employs to represent the many gods and their role in the culture. It’s a powerful read.
There is a partner story from a different perspective called Saints. I will definitely be reading it.
Here’s a video trailer of Boxers.