If you need a pick-me-up at the moment you can do worse things than grab a copy of Yao Xiao’s collection of cartoons, Everything is Beautiful and I’m Not Afraid.
Bringing together a selection of her serialised Baopu cartoons (a mix of old and new material), Everything is Beautiful and I’m Not Afraid charts Xiao’s life as a Chinese woman living in New York, and her struggles to live an authentic life. Caught trying to live in two worlds she chronicles her experiences coming out to her conservative Chinese mother, to everyday, casual racism in America.
These snippets and thoughts are poetically illustrated in charming style; simple but evocative bite-sized morsels. Ranging from single page observations to 3 to 4 page sequences, there is a calm running through these tales mixed with sadness. The childlike nature of the cartoon art amplifies the philosophical and heartfelt observations.
Xiao speaks of living “11 months fiction, 1 month reality” describing the way she navigates the complexities of her life. Born in Tianjin China, Xiao has lived in the U.S. since 2006 and her view on American life is insightful, blending her love and frustration equally. It also beautifully charts how her life has changed from those early years, to now. Happy to leave China, then longing to return home. Through it all is a search for authenticity; how to live a true, authentic life.
I totally fell into this book and didn’t come back up until I’d reached the end. Self-reflective, colourful, melancholic but uplifting – Everything is Beautiful and I’m Not Afraid: A Baopu Collection is just what I needed to read in the middle of this pandemic.
Everything is Beautiful and I’m Not Afraid: A Baopu Collection is published by Andrews McMeel Publishing and is available now both in print and digitally.