Interior Chinatown: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)
Interior Chinatown shifts from the everyday life of Willis Wu, an actor born and raised in Chinatown among a cast of many Asian folks each making their way in Hollywood, and his scenes in Black and White, a cop drama. These scenes are difficult to differentiate between. Reality is filtered through the stereotypes of Asian folks in popular culture. Folks are reduced to Old Asian Man, Kung Fu Guy, Pretty Asian Woman not only in the tv show, but also by Willis. As we read about Willis’ success, failure, and a reckoning with his identity, we are forced to come to terms with our own perceptions of Asian identity.
This is a brilliant novel that asks you to come to terms with your biases and look beyond them. - Izzy
2020 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"One of the funniest books of the year. . . . A delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire." —The Washington Post
From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, 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 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.
"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
About the Author
Charles Yu is the author of four books, including Interior Chinatown, winner of the 2020 National Book Award. He has been 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 Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired, among other publications.
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
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“[A] sharply observed, darkly humorous evocation of the Asian American experience.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Like nothing you’ve read before—a moving and transportive work abounding with risks that pay off.”
“Passionate and clever. . . . A caustic, absurd, and endearing exploration of Asian American stereotypes, police procedurals, and the immigrant experience.”
“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)