Synopses & Reviews
This dazzling, multi-voiced fusion of fiction, playwriting, graphic art, and philosophy spins an epic tale of America's struggle for civil rights as it played out in San Francisco. Divided into ten novellas, one for each year, I Hotel
begins in 1968, when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, students took to the streets, the Vietnam War raged, and cities burned.
As Yamashita's motley cast of students, laborers, artists, revolutionaries, and provocateurs make their way through the history of the day, they become caught in a riptide of politics and passion, clashing ideologies, and personal turmoil. And by the time the survivors unite to save the International Hotel — epicenter of the Yellow Power Movement — their stories have come to define the very heart of the American experience.
"In Yamashita's latest, she strings together a stunningly complete vision of San Francisco's Asian American community in the late 1960s and early '70s, using the titular inn as a meeting point for ten loosely-connected novellas, each covering a single year. Focusing on the struggle for equality and peace as it involved this particular community, Yamashita's work also incorporates a broad view of the Asian and Asian American experiences, from Japanese internment camps to the Marcos dictatorship. Yamashita accomplishes a dynamic feat of mimesis by throwing together achingly personal stories of lovers, old men, and orphaned children; able synopses of historical events and social upheaval; and public figures like Lenin and Malcolm X (Yamashita's opening line: 'So I'm Water Cronkite, dig?'). Despite its experimental and fictionalized nature, the novel reads more like a patchwork oral history, determined to relate the facts of its setting and, more importantly, the feelings of it; with varied commingling of voices and formats (stream-of-consciousness, slangy first person, quotes, dossiers, academic papers, even written-out choreography), the narrative reads like a collection of primary sources. Though it isn't for everyone, this powerful, deeply felt, and impeccably researched fiction is irresistibly evocative and overwhelming in every sense. 30 b&w photos and illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"It seems like every year brings a breakout indie hit in movie theaters; it's great to imagine a world where I Hotel is this year's bookstore equivalent....If [I Hotel] sounds complicated, don't be scared — it's a stylistically wild ride, but it's smart, funny and entrancing." Michael Schaub, NPR
"[A] dazzling depiction of those exhilarating, turbulent days..." San Francisco Chronicle
“With humor and bite, [Yamashita] takes on waste, greed, stupidity, love, environmental and cultural apocalypse and the problems of migration and belonging — achieving a kind of cross between Kobo Abe, Gabriel García Márquez and Upton Sinclair." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"An amazing literary accomplishment and one of the most pleasurable reading experiences I have ever had." Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Booksellers
A tour de force through America's most transformative decade.
About the Author
Heralded as a "big talent" by the Los Angeles Times
, Karen Tei Yamashita is an American Book Award and Janet Heidinger Kafka Award winner. A California native who has also lived in Brazil and Japan, she is Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California-Santa Cruz, where she received the Chancellor's Award for Diversity in 2009.
Leland Wong is an illustrator, photographer, and screen printer renowned for his documentation of the Asian American experience. He lives in San Francisco.
Sina Grace is a comic book artist and graphic novelist who lives in Los Angeles.