A deft and effective satire. Yu's clever spin on which specific "roles" are available to Asian Americans makes for a sharp social commentary. I grinned, grimaced, and just kind of slammed my head against the wall. Read it!!
Actor Willis Wu feels like a background character in his own life. As an Asian American, he's been assigned the role of the overlooked. This innovative novel (it's written in screenplay form) is a darkly funny, sad, and poignant story that follows Wu as he gets ready for his breakout role. Thought-provoking and throughly enjoyable.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • “A shattering and darkly comic send-up of racial stereotyping in Hollywood” (Vanity Fair) and adeeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.
Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as the protagonist 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. Or is it?
After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family. Infinitely inventive and deeply personal, exploring the themes of pop culture, assimilation, and immigration—Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet.
About the Author
CHARLES YU is the author of four books, including Interior Chinatown (the winner of the 2020 National Book Award for fiction), and the novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (a New York Times Notable Book and a Time magazine best book of the year). He received the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 Award and was nominated for two Writers Guild of America 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 The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired, among other publications. Together with TaiwaneseAmerican.org, he established the Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Writing Prizes, in honor of his parents.
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • A National Endowment for the Arts Big Read
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: THE NEW YORKER • NPR • TIME • THE WASHINGTON POST • THE ATLANTIC • VANITY FAIR • VULTURE • THRILLIST • SHELF AWARENESS • SOUTHERN LIVING • INSIDEHOOK • KIRKUS REVIEWS • THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY • THE CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY
"Fresh and beautiful. . . . Interior Chinatown represents yet another stellar destination in the journey of a sui generis author of seemingly limitless skill and ambition.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[A] sharply observed, darkly humorous evocation of the Asian American experience.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Satire at its best, a shattering and darkly comic send-up of racial stereotyping in Hollywood . . . presented, perfectly, in the sharply hewed format of a screenplay. . . . Peeling back caricatures to paint vivid individual portraits, Yu eviscerates generalizations with the devastatingly specific.” —Vanity Fair
“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
“An inventive satire about racial stereotyping.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR
“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
“Part novel, part screenplay, part screed, and part sociology, this National Book Award winner is always funny and pretty savage.” —Vulture
“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
“Honest, funny, sad, and necessary satire.” —Thrillist
“Like nothing you’ve read before—a moving and transportive work abounding with risks that pay off.” —InsideHook
“Passionate and clever. . . . A caustic, absurd, and endearing exploration of Asian American stereotypes, police procedurals, and the immigrant experience.” —Shelf Awareness
“A stunning novel about identity, race, societal expectations, and crippling anxiety told with humor and affection and a deep understanding of human nature.” —The Washington Independent Review 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)