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Publisher's Summary

A 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)

©2020 Charles Yu (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"I’m a big fan of Charles Yu’s writing because of his wit and inventiveness. These talents are front and center in the brilliant and hilarious Interior Chinatown, which satirizes the racist imagination and brings us deep into the humanity of those who suffer from - and struggle against - dehumanization." (Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer)

"Interior Chinatown is wrenching, hilarious, sharp, surreal, and above all, original. This is an extraordinary book by an immensely talented writer." (Emily St. John Mandel, National Book Award finalist and author of The Glass Hotel)

"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.... Ingeniously draws on real-life Hollywood.... [The book’s] sobering reality will resonate with savvy readers." (Terry Hong, Booklist, starred review)

What listeners say about Interior Chinatown

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  • AC
  • 11-03-2021

Completely astounding

I can’t even begin to describe listening to this book. Written like a screenplay, part-satire, part-comedy, part-tragedy, Charles Yu captures the voice of the Chinese diaspora in America in this tour-de-force of imagination. I laughed hard. I was moved beyond words. One of the most original books I have read. Brilliant.

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  • JCY
  • 30-01-2020

Kong Fu Guy

The narration was amazing. He had several characters stored in him with great delivery. The storyline is unique and the plot was strong. I really felt the struggles of generic Asian man. I highly recommend this book and get a copy for yourself. The writing style is scripted which works perfectly for this story.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Rose Blum
  • 09-01-2021

A rant about racism, that's sometimes funny.

Initially I enjoyed this book, understood what all the praise was about ~ it's witty and clever ~ then realised after 2 hours that I was feeling so weary from being reminded, again and again, about all the racial injustice a person has to tolerate in their lives. I got completely fed up as it seemed utterly myopic and the anger was exhausting. As a foreigner in this country too, white and middle class, I have experienced a mass of racism - it goes both ways. I could write a book about the hatred I have experienced in Asia, here, and in other countries because I am white, because of what I represent. Don't we all know this? Aren't we trying really hard to balance things out, make this world better? Producing work that just seethes with anger in my view isn't the way. However, maybe it's illuminating for some. The narrator was first class and I will seek out other books that he has read.

6 people found this helpful

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  • ~Shopaholic~
  • 03-05-2020

Amazing

I couldn't stop listening. The everyday struggles of trying to be seen as American, to get to just have the American experience (white) using the roles of Asian bit part day player/extra on a TV show set in Chinatown as a way of shedding light to society constantly labeling groups as second class was well done. Highly recommend.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Loretta J Fay
  • 11-02-2020

Satirical, Insightful, Witty, and Heartwarming

Joel de la Fuente (Man in the High Castle) narrates perfectly. Hope to hear more read by him.

4 people found this helpful

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  • BK
  • 01-12-2020

Wow! Just: wow!

I can think of nothing to say that even begins to hint at the originality, daring, and unexpected power of "Interior Chinatown." All I can say is: read it. Or listen to it. (Joel de la Fuente's narration is perfect.) It's unlike anything you've ever read before.

2 people found this helpful

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  • L. Quan
  • 27-11-2020

Quintessential American story from a certain point of view

Im listening to this audiobook- its easily one of the best ones Ive come across that speaks about the Chinese American experience. Witty, satirical and anecdotal- it speaks volumes about what its like to be Chinese in America- with a dash of KungFu sprinkled in! U should check it out. Mos ‘def Sifu!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Allen K. Grammer
  • 02-03-2021

Great Read

Charles Yu captures the search for identity of many Asian sisters and brothers. He does it in such a way that you find yourself laughing and deeply troubled at the same time. He speaks to privilege and those who suffer both emotionally and psychologically. Once again we are forced to confront sides of the American experience that are painful and yet so necessary. A great read.

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  • HistoryBuff
  • 27-02-2021

This won awards?

The gimmicky writing style quickly wears thin, leaving a tedious repetitive purposeless story. A short story stretched 3x an appropriate length.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Karl R. Walko
  • 26-02-2021

A Chinese Perspective on Being Asian in America

Willis Wu dreams of being Kung Fu guy. The highest he can think to be in this satire of Asian assimilation. Very imaginative and amusing!

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  • speck
  • 17-02-2021

Doesn’t do well on audio

I read this book with my book club. I do all my “reading “via Audible. This book does not work at all in that format. It is cleverly written as a screenplay but on audio and you couldn’t tell what was the script and what was real life. It was very confusing. One other book club member used audio and had the same problem. Those who read a hard cover book thought it was terrific. It just didn’t work this way.

1 person found this helpful

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