I've been in dire need of a book like Interior Chinatown for quite some time. As an Asian American, it's nice to have something that, to me, feels so straightforward and unapologetically blunt about our circumstances. Subtlety is awesome, but sometimes you're fed up and need the catharsis of exposing and berating all of your frustrations. It's like taking a moment to go off and scream where nobody can hear you. It's like rehearsing an imaginary argument in the shower. It's like hitting a punching bag. You let it all out. Charles Yu lets it all out in his displays of common racism and stereotypes that seem to define us as Asian Americans. We're all Generic Asian Person living in someone else's world. There are plenty more great Asian American narratives out there, but, for now, this one takes the cake for me in terms of showcasing the ignorance that is deeply settled in our society. Please read this. Please try to understand where we're coming from. Please learn to acknowledge the subtle racism that, to us, feels blatant. It's an amazing, lighthearted step in the right direction. Gosh, I love this book! Recommended By Jun L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
2020 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe comes a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.
Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but always he is relegated to a prop. Yet every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy — the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. At least that is what he has been told, time and time again. Except by one person, his mother. Who says to him: be more.
Playful but heartfelt, a send-up of Hollywood tropes and Asian stereotypes — Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet.
"I'm a big fan of Charles Yu's writing because of his wit and inventiveness. These talents are front and center in the brilliant and hilarious Interior Chinatown, which satirizes the racist imagination and brings us deep into the humanity of those who suffer from-and struggle against-dehumanization." Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer
"Interior Chinatown is wrenching, hilarious, sharp, surreal, and above all, original. This is an extraordinary book by an immensely talented writer." Emily St. John Mandel, National Book Award finalist and author of The Glass Hotel
“Bold, even groundbreaking... Interior Chinatown solders together mordant wit and melancholic whimsy to produce a moving exploration of race and assimilation.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Interior Chinatown... recalls the humorous and heartfelt short stories of George Saunders, the metafictional high jinks of Mark Leyner, and films like The Truman Show.” The New York Times
“Meticulously crafted... Yu tells us about ourselves with his haunting depictions of the immigrant experience, familial relationships, and the abiding desire to break from the pressures of conformity and live an authentic life.” Los Angeles Review of Books
“Yu has a devilish good time poking fun at the racially blinkered ways of Hollywood... [Interior Chinatown is] rollicking fun, and its reclamation of Asian American history, with all its attendant sorrows and hopes, holds out the possibility of a new, true story ahead.” New York Journal of Books
“Conflates history, sociology, and ethnography with the timeless evils of racism, sexism, and elitism in a multigenerational epic that’s both rollicking entertainment and scathing commentary.” Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Charles Yu is the author of three books, including the novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, which was a New York Times Notable Book and named one of the best books of the year by Time magazine. He received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award and was nominated for two WGA awards for his work on the HBO series Westworld. He has also written for shows on FX, AMC, and HBO. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in a number of publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired.