2020 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER
"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 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 he is always 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’s 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 masterly 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
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Does life ever make you feel like a bit character instead of a star? Willis Wu understands that feeling, literally and figuratively. The hero of Interior Chinatown wants to be a martial-arts movie star, but whether he’s acting on the set of his regular gig—a trashy TV cop show called Black and White—or living his offscreen life, he can’t get people to see him as anything but a generic Asian in the background. Author Charles Yu cleverly makes Willis’ story feel like a movie by structuring the novel like a screenplay, and turns hilarious pop-culture riffs about Asian stereotypes into meaningful metaphors about race and society. Actor Joel de la Fuente (The Man in the High Castle) deftly lands both the laughs and the dramatic beats. He makes Yu’s classic underdog story—which doubles as a critique of the brutally unfair entertainment industry—a great listen start to finish.