Author of ‘American Born Chinese’ and other graphic novels Gene Luen Yang was among this year’s recipients of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s ‘Genius Grant' of $625,000 given over a period of five years.
Yang, who is a professing Catholic who has also been known to integrate his faith into his work, was recognized by the Foundation as “leading the way in bringing diverse characters to children’s and young adult literature and confirming comics’ place as an important creative and imaginative force within literature and art.”
This grant is unique in that the recipients are able to use the money in any way they wish. In the words of the Founation: “The MacArthur Fellowship is a ‘no strings attached’ award in support of people, not projects.”
“When I first heard about it, I was in shock. I was in open-jawed shock,” Yang, 43, told the Wall Street Journal.
When asked what he plans to do with the grant, he said in numerous interviews that he plans to channel the money to his three main roles as a family member (as a son, father, and husband), as a cartoonist, and as a teacher.
Yang, who was appointed by the Library of Congress in January of 2016 as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, told the Los Angeles Times: “I want to put part of these resources to each of those things. I don’t think I’m going to build a palace, but it will at least help me send two of my kids to college.”
He added that he hopes to hire an intern, and to use some of the grant to provide resources for projects he had been wanting to do with the Library of Congress.
“It’s just crazy,” Yang told the Washington Post. “I feel incredibly blessed.”
Yang is currently working on a new graphic novel series called ‘Secret Coders,’ and will be touring for two weeks to promote the second volume of the series which began in 2015. Apart from ‘American Born Chinese,’ which was a finalist for the National Book Award, Yang has also been recognized for his other works including ‘Boxers and Saints,’ ‘The New Super-Man,’ and ‘The Shadow Hero.’