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I Hotel

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  279 ratings  ·  68 reviews
2010 National Book Award Finalist
2010-2011 Asian/Pacific American Library Association (APALA) Book Award Winner in Adult Fiction
2010 California Book Award Winner


Dazzling and ambitious, this hip, multi-voiced fusion of prose, playwriting, graphic art, and philosophy spins an epic tale of America’s struggle for civil rights as it played out in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Divi
...more
Paperback, 613 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Coffee House Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,565)
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Aubrey
Lu Hsun gives up medicine. What's the point? He could study all he wanted to make his people healthy in body, but they were sick in their minds, dig. Now this might seem like a jump, but Lu Hsun thinks the answer is literature. So he starts a new life writing.
I know of the 'People's History of the United States' but what about the 'Non-White People's History of the United States'? Something huge and intricately spun and developed on a scale to put Gibbon to shame, something which may already ex
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Bjorn
Jun 21, 2013 Bjorn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: usa
Just wow. A huge, sprawling, aimless and yet deadeye story of identity, resistance, success and failure, all that jazz (as in free, as in Rahsaan Roland Kirk's twin saxes blowing different melodies at the same time, as in Miles' electric phase fusing white-boy funk with black panther politics, as in Thomas P), ancient folk tales and pragmatic political actions, Mao vs Reagan, all scattered out over 600 pages, 10 years, the echo of billions and centuries in a few dozen people over 10 years, spoke ...more
James
As a matter of principle, I avoid hotels, in any form, at all costs. But I Hotel, like the ones in Vegas, I just couldn’t seem to resist.

The publishers refer to Karen Tei Yamashita’s I Hotel as “This dazzling, multi-voiced fusion of fiction, playwriting, graphic art, and philosophy [that:] spins an epic tale…”

On other matters of principle, I am always cautious when the word “epic” gets thrown around like blame after an oil spill. But flipping through its pages, I Hotel does appear to have graphi
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Gordon
This book is a masterpiece.

It's somewhat experimental fiction, and clearly not everyone likes that (see other reviews), but as a whole I have seen nothing that tackles the subject matter and time period with such attention to detail, spirit, and, well, affection. Not nostalgic -- if anything certain segments remind me too much of situations I'm glad I'm not in anymore -- but I Hotel distills the political time and place of SF in the '70s better than anything I have ever read.

This book makes the
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Elaine
Jan 23, 2011 Elaine rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I really wanted to like this book, with its fascinating subject matter (Asian American radicals in San Francisco from the 30s through the 70s) and creative structure (reminded me most of Bolano, of things read recently). However, the political didacticism was just too heavy handed -- the mind numbing factionalism and doctrinalism of those years too lovingly recreated, while the energy and excitement was really not. Almost no one emerges from the novel's intricate structure and political detail a ...more
Bridgit
First of all, I am not Asian or an Asian American. I wasn't even alive in the 60s or 70s and I have been in San Francisco for a total of 5 days in my whole life. So not exactly the 'target market' for this book. With that caveat, this was a HUGE struggle to finish. I would have put it down a long time ago if it werent for the fact that it was the book of the month for my book club. As it was, it took 3 separate attempts to get past page 24, including 3 times where I fell asleep after reading 5 p ...more
Mark
Relentlessly intelligent, both in terms of literary style and substance. Alternating poetry, prose, screenplay and line narrative, I Hotel runs the gamut from hip and light-hearted to horribly sad. Full of truths and insights into an explosively intense and volatile period of recent history - the life of the left in the late '60's and early '70's. The frame is the Asian American experience, particularly in NoCal, most particularly in San Francisco. Readers are treated to compelling historical fi ...more
Jasmine
i've been reading this book for a while. according to goodreads since december 11. up until the last novella I was planning on giving it 3 stars. I mean it's a great book and I enjoyed it,but it has it's issues as does everything. BUT the last novella is a really beautifully written who are we. Of the ten sections there are 3 really good sections: the first one, the one about ben and the last one. The other sections vary in their greatness, but none of the book is actually bad.

so the problems:
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Timothy Hallinan
This is the best, most original, most ambitious, funniest, saddest novel I've read so far in 2011, and I can't actually imagine I'm going to read anything much better in the next 8 months.

Yamashita tells the whole civil right story through the Asian-America perpective, centering on a dilapidated and eventually demolished long-stay hotel in San Francisco. The book is a series of linked novellas -- one per year for a decade (1966-1977), each focused on the inhabitants of the hotel or activities th
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Darryl

The International Hotel (I-Hotel) was built a year after the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake in Manilatown, a community of some 20,000 Filipino immigrants on the edge of Chinatown. It was a residential hotel, which mainly housed Filipino and Chinese immigrant bachelors who worked in nearby businesses but couldn't afford homes, along with a smattering of artists and community and political activists that moved there in the 1960s. The I-Hotel sat in the shadow of the Financial District's
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Anna
Set during a turbulent decade spanning the late 60's through the early 70's, I Hotel is the expansive story of the Yellow Power Movement, set primarily around the International Hotel, the home of aging Asian migrant workers and the headquarters for many of the movement's activities, told over 10 novellas or "hotels."

It's funny. I read this for an independent study and spent much of my month dedicated to it bemoaning its high difficulty level, its constant changing up of prose style and narrativ
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Oriana
Dec 13, 2010 Oriana marked it as to-read
from Rain Taxi via Powell's:

Huge, messy, and frantically fun, I Hotel offers a very believable panorama of life at this time. It's apparent that Yamashita did an incredible amount of research for the book. The portraits of these early generation Asian Americans, some of whom were or knew people who had been imprisoned in internment camps, denied a humane wage, got fucked with by the cops and the government, fought losing battles for citizenship, and lived in deplorable conditions, are quite movi
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Ruth
This historical novel consists of ten linked novellas about radical political figures and artists involved in the Asian American movement in San Francisco. That makes it sound much drier and more technical than it is. I was drawn in and absorbed by the stories, some of which were familiar and some very unfamiliar. I recognized all the references to Maxine Hong Kingston and to some of the labor leaders, but other things were completely outside the narrative I had learned about US history. I reall ...more
John
Dec 31, 2013 John marked it as to-read
Recommended to John by: Jack Waters
Shelves: novella

( @Jack Waters: You indirectly 'recommended' this to me when I saw a pic [which you recently posted on FB] of yourself and the author of this book, Karen Tei Yamashita. My curiosity was piqued, I went online, read a little bit about this book, I Hotel, and I'm really looking forward to picking up a copy now and getting into this collection. :) Thank you! )
Branden Meyers
The book is extremely complex, containing a massive cast of characters who are affiliated with a dozen different organizations, with a plot spanning an entire decade and a bit over 600 pages. Some sections of the book and some characters definitely more interesting than others, but overall, it is definitely a powerful book.

It is a fictionalized retelling of the Civil Rights struggle from the Asian-American perspective. (I feel a bit guilty about using that word after reading it.) I learned a lot
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Stephanie Gustafson
This book is packed with history and politics. It's best to read it slowly and to meditate on all the information that is given by multiple narrators. I would read it again!
Katie
Oh my! Scope, scale, complexity. Our book club waved white flag and surrendered. Some are now using it for building biceps. Likely, though, the book is genius.
Mpho3
Took me forever to read this book, though doing so was very rewarding. Yamashita's ten inter-connected novellas explore a variety of experimental narrative structures as well as diving deep into the experiences of Asian Americans during the Civil Rights era, most typically associated with Negros-cum-Blacks-cum-African-Americans. The problem most particular inherent to the most recent politically correct term is true of those hyphenated Americans who populated I Hotel, both in real life and in Ya ...more
Vince Gotera
Karen Tei Yamashita's novel I Hotel is an absolutely tremendous book. It can be a difficult read but it's worth the journey. The center of the story is the (real) International Hotel in San Francisco in the '60s and '70s, a residential hotel where poor (in many cases, old) immigrant Filipino bachelors live ... have lived for decades. In another example of the evils of "urban renewal" the powers want to evict these residents in order to raze the hotel and build upscale condos. For a decade or mor ...more
lita
People who come out of prison can build up the country
Misfortune is a test of people's fidelity
Those who protest at injustice are people of true merit
When the prison doors are opened, the real dragon will fly out
-- Ho Chi Minh (page 295)

Toward the black people in the United States, they disguised it as a racist stereotype portraying the black man and the black sister as subhuman persons, and this was the rationale for slavery and their subhuman treatment. Once again, an example of the theory of
...more
Juliet
An incredible book--really deserved to have won the National Book Award, in terms of content and ambition. But anyway it was nominated.

Set in and around the historic International Hotel in San Francisco's Manilatown, I HOTEL is made up of ten "novellas," or "hotels" as the author calls them in her Afterword, one for each year of protest against the forced closing of the hotel between 1968 and 1977, when the hotel residents are finally evicted. A tribute to the many Asian American and/or progres
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Kevin
I wish I could give this book six stars. This is a defining book. A must read for anyone who wants to understand what "Asian American" means, not just during the revolutionary AAM period covered by the book, but today, and tomorrow.

The book is comprised of ten overlapping, intersecting, and yet distinct novellas, each experimenting with various narrative voices in ways that I didn't think I would like, but I did.

Karen Tei Yamashita is, without a doubt, the best contemporary author writing in, fo
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Cynthia
I had a love/hate relationship with this book for the entire 600 pages. I loved the topic, since I had never read anything about the Yellow Power movement or learned anything about it in school. Sometimes I liked the abstract writing style because it got me out of my comfort zone, but it often felt like work trying to figure out what was going on and I didn’t miss it when I wasn’t reading it. Some characters appear in different parts of the book, but it’s hard to remember who a character is when ...more
Cathlin Goulding
Karen Tei Yamashita's I Hotel, recently nominated for a National Book Award, is a series of ten novellas set in the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The novel's cast of characters includes: a Filipino farm worker who claims he was once a chef for John Steinbeck, Mo Akagi, a Japanese American activist modeled after Richard Aoki, and an avant-garde choreographer named Sandy Hu. Many of the characters are tied to the Third World Liberation Front, a coalition of studen ...more
Elizabeth
Quite conceptual and academic. I enjoyed many parts of it. But its structure belied the chance to grow with the characters.

She was trying to portray the incredible diversity of Asian-American activism/activists in San Francisco in the 60s and 70s. To do so, she divided the book into several discrete sections focusing on different characters with different ethnicities, backgrounds, and types of activism. For such a complex project, her ability to create compelling characters is impressive. Howeve
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AdultFiction Teton County Library
TCL Call#: F Yamashita K

Isabel’s Rating: 4 stars
I love this tome of a novel (600+pages) for very personal reasons – I was involved in rebuilding the I-Hotel nearly 30 years after its tenants were evicted. If you’re up for an unusual reading adventure or want to read about the U.S. in the ‘60s and ‘70s from a very different point of view, consider this book. The huge cast of characters in the ten novellas and use of different writing styles (including play, poetry, graphic novel), won’t make this
...more
Neliza Drew
Written in a style resembling much of McSweeney's, I-HOTEL bounces from radical group to radical group in a beatniky sort of vibe that tells the story of the seventies through the eyes of a run-down hotel slated for demolition and the militant, mostly-Asian youth who trudge through it along with the elderly men who call it home, the wanderers and the Communist factions and the immigrants and organizers. It's a big book with big ideas. It shifts and beebops along along a stiff breeze carrying the ...more
itpdx
I cannot tell you how this book works. It is 10 novellas written in a variety of styles--narrative (1st, 2nd and 3rd persons), film scripts, poetry, graphic and some I can't even identify. But I quickly came to care about the characters and their causes. There is beautiful synchronicity in the stories.

The book is based around the International Hotel in San Francisco and is set the 70's when the residents were evicted to make way for "urban renewal". It follows a number of Asian-Americans and the
...more
Maggie
OK, I didn't finish it.
It had me for awhile. I'm an old hippy, so if you bring on the sixties I'll start tingling. And I'm not even black, brown or yellow. But you play that old revolution/demonstration rag and my feet will dance for about a half a book. But after that, no matter how many ways you can think of to play it, it gets old. Recruit, organize, demonstrate demand. Everyone's out to commit genocide. Enough already. This book just runs the same theme over and over again. Finally, I coul
...more
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Born January 8, 1951 in Oakland, California, Karen Tei Yamashita is a Japanese American writer and Associate Professor of Literature at University of California, Santa Cruz, where she teaches creative writing and Asian American literature. Her works, several of which contain elements of magic realism, include novels I Hotel (2010), Circle K Cycles (2001), Tropic of Orange (1997), Brazil-Maru (1992 ...more
More about Karen Tei Yamashita...
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“Everyone’s got a version of the same story, or maybe there’s no such thing as the same story; it’s a different story every time.” 5 likes
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