NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe comes "one of the funniest books of the year.... A delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire" (The Washington Post).
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
How many times have you felt like an extra in someone else’s movie? For Willis Wu, the protagonist of Charles Yu’s inventive novel, that sense of disposability follows him every day as he navigates his real and “reel” lives—living in a depressingly tiny L.A. apartment while appearing on a TV series in the role of Generic Asian Man. Structured like a screenplay, Interior Chinatown made us root for Willis’ dreams to break free from his demeaning reality. Yu has a talent for turning hilarious pop-culture riffs into meaningful explorations of social and racial issues, but his novel really hits home when he touches on the real emotions beneath the jokes. He shows us how Asian Americans can feel culturally adrift in—or outright rejected by—their own country, and looks at the ways people find a sense of self-worth and community in spite of these roadblocks. Fast and funny, this wonderful read has a devastating sting.