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Escape to Gold Mountain - A Graphic History of the Chinese in North America

Escape to Gold Mountain

A Graphic History of the Chinese in North America


Winner, Chinese American Library Association Best Book Award winner (Fiction)

The history of Chinese immigration to Canada and the US over the past 100-plus years has been fraught with sadness and indignity; newcomers to North America encountered discrimination, subjugation, and separation from loved ones. As well, in Canada the Chinese head tax was introduced after the Canadian Parliament passed the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 to discourage Chinese immigrants, while in the US, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act outright banned Chinese immigration to America. Despite such obstacles, these Chinese newcomers persevered in order to create a better life for the generations to come.

Escape to Gold Mountain is the first graphic novel to tell their story: based on historical documents and interviews with elders, this is a vivid history of the Chinese in their search for "Gold Mountain" (the Chinese colloquialism for North America) as seen through the eyes of the Wong family. They traverse the challenges of eking out an existence in their adopted homeland with hope and determination, creating a poignant immigrant's legacy for their sons and daughters.

Escape to Gold Mountain is a moving and gripping story for all young North Americans.

Ages 12 and up.


  • Winner, Chinese American Library Association Best Book Award (Fiction) 2013


Wong's book is a great illustrated yarn -- make that several generational yarns woven together -- telling the story of Chinese families coming to North America (or "Gold Mountain" as those immigrants called this continent). Wong doesn't flinch from showing the discrimination and hardships Chinese faced as they sought to build new lives here, nor does he neglect the triumphant contributions they have made. Told and drawn with humour and bravado, this is a no digest of historical facts. It's a page turner for all ages that is likely to become a classic. -The Tyee

Although the comic-book format makes some serious moments darkly funny, one reads with horror about atrocities once commonplace in our backyard. -Seattle Weekly

Wong proves that pictures can indeed hold thousands (and thousands!) of words, capturing 200+ years of history in as many pages; he also includes a "Chinglish" glossary, a timeline that overlaps China and Gam Saan, maps, extensive notes, and a thorough bibliography. -Book Dragon blog from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

This book is an excellent introduction to the complex issue of Chinese immigration as told from the Chinese point of view. -Seattle Post-Intelligencer

If you want to read about a shameful chapter of American history in convenient comic-book form, you should read Escape to Gold Mountain.
-The Stranger

Escape To Gold Mountain is an important book that plays to the strength of the graphic novel form. It encapsulizes the struggle of the Chinese in North America in a sweeping visual narrative, attacking a complex storyline that takes in the opium wars to early immigration, railroad workers, the head tax, and the Chinese exclusion act. Forget Batman; Escape to Gold Mountain reveals that the real superheroes are the ones who toil and sacrifice for their families in the face of obscurity. -Tony Wong, journalist

Eloquent, lyrical black-and-gray panels that conjure the environment and living conditions as well as the people. -Library Journal

This is a moving book that deserves to be read. -VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) Magazine

To be able to visually follow the characters in Escape to Gold Mountain through more than two hundred pages as fully formed and central actors in history is a highly entertaining and enjoyable step towards decolonizing our history. -BC Studies

A tour-de-force artistic and conceptual achievement that will redefine how Chinese in North America and others perceive our common history. -Anthony B. Chan, author of Gold Mountain and Perpetually Cool: The Many Lives of Anna May Wong

The author's panel work makes an at-times painful history easily read . .. The comic is really a jumping-off point for those interested in the subject matter -- the epic research that Wong put towards the book made for enough bibliography and reading resources to launch a thousand syllabi, or at least a sense that an important portion of history may have been missing from your childhood textbooks. -San Francisco Bay Guardian

This is action-packed history for new generations in which David H. T. Wong presents over 100 years of Gold Mountain stories, drawn and told with passion and a critical eye. A rousing tribute to our pioneers! -Paul Yee, author of Ghost Train and Tales from Gold Mountain

This book is an excellent introduction to the complex issue of Chinese immigration as told from the Chinese point of view. -Blogcritics. org

The First Nations people have a great oral tradition, and David H. T. Wong's comic book is a wonderful way to continue that tradition, along with his illustrations. This is a book for new and future generations that will create pride in the rich cultures we share. -Chief Leonard George,
Tsleil-Waututh Nation

Escape to Gold Mountain is forgotten history, and all the more important for teen readers in particular, because it has been so overlooked. Wong does a solid job of bringing his characters to life and making the narrative both informative and emotional . .. As a fan of both American and Canadian history, I found this graphic novel compelling and perfectly suited for the illustrated form. -Bookslut

Inventive . .. a hip, accessible, comic-book format that's chock full of historical details. -Seattle Times