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Interior Chinatown

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  41 ratings  ·  18 reviews
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. Every day, he leaves his tiny room in a
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: January 28th 2020 by Pantheon Books
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  • Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
    Interior Chinatown
    Release date: Jan 28, 2020
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    Giveaway dates: Jan 01 - Jan 21, 2020

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    Average rating 4.39  · 
    Rating details
     ·  41 ratings  ·  18 reviews

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    Charlie Anders
    Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Wow, I love this book so much. Most books are lucky to be either clever or deep, but Interior Chinatown is both, and makes it look easy. Charles Yu has so much to say about the formulas that make up pop-culture storytelling, and the ways those formulas intersect with stereotypes.

    Willis Wu is a bit player on a procedural cop show called Black and White (about a black cop and a white cop), and Willis aspires to rise to better roles, like Ethnic Recurring or even the most prized role, Kung-Fu Guy.
    Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
    Shelves: usa, china, 2020-read
    You have to applaud Yu for crafting a unique narrative set-up: His novel merges the storyline of a TV crime procedural with the life of a young man who by his surroundings is only perceived as the "Generic Asian Man" - he is an actor trying to get a role beyond that of a clichéd Asian person, but he is also forced into the role of "Generic Asian Man" in real life. The whole effect is surreal and brilliantly conveying the strange loops in which a person who is reduced to a stereotype is trapped - ...more
    Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
    This is definitely one of those "it's not you, it's me" books. Charles Yu makes some smart points about difficult issues here, and even got a couple of laughs from me along the way, but Interior Chinatown is essentially an allegory. I'm constitutionally allergic to allegory.
    Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Wow. This book is incredible - clever, original, sarcastic, and provocative. Need some time to gather my thoughts but I know I'm going to be recommending this one a lot.
    Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Charles Yu has produced a rare creature: a novel that is highly literary, playful with form, very funny and - most notably - not difficult. One thing that worked particularly well is the fuzzy boundary between the protagonist's real/screen persona and story as a mechanism for exploring the ambiguous place that Asian-Americans occupy in a country that still thinks of itself as largely black and white. The last 20 pages or so got a bit didactic for my taste, but it's a minor offense given how good ...more
    Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    This was such a great read! A very unique approach to the topics of media representation, culture, and cultural stereotypes of Asian Americans both on screen and off. The thin line between reality and fiction was what kept me on my toes, constantly wondering what part of this was Willis' real life and what parts were fictional and scripted. A very well-written and engaging book that I think will be great for any reader.

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book
    Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    A fast, witty delight, with a searing examination of Asian representation in American culture. Yu is a genius and I'm pretty sure at this point I'd follow him anywhere.
    J. A.
    Jan 04, 2020 added it
    Shelves: 2020
    * interview forthcoming at Ploughshares *
    Linda Bond
    Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Written in the form of a stereotypical screenplay, filled with a range of stereotypical Oriental characters, daily performing in a stereotypical cop show set in a stereotypical Chinese restaurant, Interior Chinatown is a mesmerizing work of genius. Willis Wu is an Asian actor who is slowly moving his way up the ladder of success. He’s moved his way through Background Oriental Male, to Oriental Guy Making a Weird Face, and hopes to make it all the way to Kung Fu Guy if he continues to work hard ...more
    Sep 16, 2019 added it
    Shelves: dnf
    DNF. I would have probably liked this book better if it had not been written like a movie script. Thank you to Knopf Books and goodreads giveaways for ARC.
    Delany Holcomb
    Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Have you ever wondered what it's like to read the interior of a crime noir Kung Fu movie? Kill your curiosity with this ingenious and completely original novel by Charles Yu. Willis Wu struggles with seeing himself as a protagonist in his own life, and when he enters the Golden Palace Chinese restaurant as a cop show is being filmed, he embraces his lifelong aspiration of becoming Kung Fu Guy, not just Background Asian Guy. But as Willis' story progresses and he's a part of the show, the more ...more
    Nelda Brangwin
    Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Although it took me a few chapters to understand the shift between second person narration and third person as well as understanding why most of the book was in the form of a movie script, once I understood, it was a very personal way to explore pop culture, racial stereotypes and trying to break free of the role each of us is supposed to play. In this story a young Chinese man strive to do more than work in a Chinese restaurant and play minor roles in TV shows and movies. This was a book that ...more
    Shoshana G
    Dec 17, 2019 rated it liked it
    Yu obviously has a lot of thoughts about racial relations in America and the way we think in binaries about something that's much more complicated. But the structure left me cold. I couldn't connect with the characters and the plot wasn't the kind of thing that sucks you in, demanding to know what happened, so I read the whole thing semidetached. This book is technically well done but as much as I remember loving "How to Live in a Science Fictional Universe", it wasn't for me.

    I read an e-ARC
    Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 2020, arc-netgalley
    Reading this book felt like a refreshing and rare adventure. The author seamlessly takes the readers "off" and "on" screen. At some point, I can't tell whether I'm reading the "real" stories or the "TV/movie script", and I think that is the intended effect. Overall, I think the book does a great job highlighting the many issues that Asian Americans are facing, from the lack of representation in the media to the struggle to be accepted as "Americans".
    Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Review forthcoming.
    Jan 15, 2020 added it
    Shelves: 2020, poc, fiction
    Heartfelt & wildly creative.
    (And also quick to read, since the whole thing is set up like a script.)
    What a weird & great way to talk about race & family & identity & pop culture.
    Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Dave Eggers eat your fucking heart out
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    Dec 30, 2019
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    CHARLES YU is the author of three books, including the novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, which was a New York Times Notable Book and named one of the best books of the year by Time magazine. He received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award, and was nominated for two WGA awards for his work on the HBO series, Westworld. He has also written for shows on FX, AMC and ...more