And, for the last book of 2008….
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.
Which is actually a graphic novel, but truly is a novel in many senses of that word.
The author twines three story lines together in order to explore what it means to be asian (from a young point of view) in the United States mainstream culture, and what it might mean if one tried to deny who one was.
The first story line is the tale of the Monkey King and how he fights to be accepted among the gods, the second is the story of Jin, your average asian transfer student at a high school of mostly white folks, and the story of Danny, whose cousin is a purposefully painful caricature of Asian stereotypes.
In the end, these three stories are tied together for a most satisfying and surprising conclusion.