Interior Chinatown: A Novel (National Book Award Winner) (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Willis Wu has aspirations to become Kung-Fu Guy on a cop show called Black and White. He's not Kung-Fu Guy yet, but maybe someday, if he can move up the ranks of bit Asian roles given to him. Willis wants this so bad that reality has blurred a bit for him and his real life shows signs of being a scripted as well. I started to question whether Willis really knew what he wanted or if he was presetting himself a path that would be difficult for him to veer away from. Charles Yu made this book look so easy, smooth and fun to read, which he's demonstrated in all his past works as well. This book is dripping with pop culture references, stereotypes and lots of lots of humor.  Interior Chinatown delivers several knock out punches at our culture and society.

— Jason


SOON TO BE A HULU ORIGINAL SERIES NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • “A shattering and darkly comic send-up of racial stereotyping in Hollywood” (Vanity Fair) and 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.

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 YorkerThe New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and Wired, among other publicationsTogether with, he established the Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Writing Prizes, in honor of his parents.

Praise For…

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER A National Endowment for the Arts Big Read


"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.”

“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.”
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)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780307948472
ISBN-10: 0307948471
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Pages: 288
Language: English
Series: Vintage Contemporaries