Interior Chinatown

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 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 highest aspiration he can imagine for a Chinatown denizen. 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, and what that means for him, in today’s America.

Playful but heartfelt, a send-up of Hollywood tropes and Asian stereotypes–Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet.

PRAISE FOR INTERIOR CHINATOWN

Named a Most Anticipated Book by: Entertainment Weekly, Time Magazine, The A.V. Club, Lit Hub, Woman’s Day, The Rumpus, Thrillist, and more.

“One of the funniest books of the year has arrived, a delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire.”
—The Washington Post

“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.’”
—Adam Sternbergh, The New York Times

“[I]ncisively examines the Asian-American reality of “being perpetual foreigners” in the United States, a minority whose story “will never fit into Black and White.”
—The New Yorker

“Interior Chinatown solders together mordant wit and melancholic whimsy to produce a moving exploration of race and assimilation that shouldn’t be missed by intellectually adventurous readers.”
—Anita Felicelli, San Francisco Chronicle

“[Interior Chinatown is] comedic. It’s literary. It’s weird and experimental . . . a kind of a George Saundersesque alternate reality. It’s all of those things, but maybe mostly, it’s allegory . . . The details meticulously crafted, render a universe that feels complete to the touch.”
—Pete Hsu, Los Angeles Review of Books

“[A] sharply observed, darkly humorous evocation of the Asian American experience that blurs the line between performative acts and literal small-screen performances.”
—Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly

“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

“Brilliantly unexpected and inventive, Interior Chinatown upended all the things I was sure I knew about the insidious power of stereotypes and left me feeling a little more hopeful for our collective future. Charles Yu’s writing is TRANSFORMATIVE.”
Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. the World

“Most books are lucky to be either clever or deep, but Charles Yu’s new novel is both, and makes it look easy. Interior Chinatown is essential reading for anyone who’s obsessed with pop culture, identity, and all the ways that we’re all playing roles, all the time.”
Charlie Jane Anders, author of The City in the Middle of the Night

“Interior Chinatown is a fascinating novel, hilarious and melancholy, a clever depiction of Hollywood dreaming itself and a sharp critique of the nature of those dreams. If it’s said that one of the reasons we watch films and television is out of a wish to ‘see ourselves,’ Yu adeptly raises the question of whether what we’re shown in response to that wish can ever be what we truly are.”
Dexter Palmer, author of Mary Toft

“I devoured this novel. Yu masterfully orchestrates a heartbreaking and hilarious tale of race in America through the lens of the HOLLYWOOD ACTION MOVIE™. It’s an examination of how popcorn-flick pop culture shapes our understanding of each other, and tragically, our own self-definition as Americans and as human beings.”
Daniel H. Wilson, author of The Clockwork Dynasty

“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)

“Inspired . . . [an] inventive drama about an Asian actor who dreams of becoming a star. . . . In spare but moving prose, [Yu] describes life among Asian Americans living as so-called foreigners [and] examines the history of bigotry against immigrants in the West for centuries. . . . An acid indictment of Asian stereotypes and a parable for outcasts feeling invisible in this fast-moving world.”
Kirkus Reviews

“I have long admired Charles Yu’s daring and original fiction, and Interior Chinatown not only met my expectations—it exceeded them. I can’t recall the last time I read a novel this inventive and surprising, and which wrestled with serious issues in such a playful manner. Yu is not afraid to take risks, and he somehow, magically—beautifully—makes those risks accessible. This book is smart and fun, comedic and sincere, thought provoking and impossible to put down. Yu is one of the most exciting writers telling stories today.”
Edan Lepucki, author of Woman No. 17

“This is a hilarious book. You’ll laugh at the universe Charles Yu creates, kitty-corner to our own and just so off-kilter – and then, without warning, you’ll be pulled under by the riptide and everything will suddenly make beautiful, perfect, heartbreaking, unexplainable sense. In Interior Chinatown, Yu builds a world out of clichés and stereotypes, then finds a tiny hole in the back and slowly fills it with life and history and nuance and anguish and joy and desire and grief. There is no writer with a greater talent for taking the flattening indignities of life and exploding them into vibrant, poignant mythology.”
Raphael Bob-Waksberg, creator of BoJack Horseman and author of Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory

PRAISE & REVIEWS FOR CHARLES YU

“There’s some of the cerebral gamesmanship of Jonathan Lethem, the resigned sadness of Kurt Vonnegut, the Phil Dickian paranoiac distrust of consumer culture. But Yu’s voice, sensibility and approach are unique, especially in the ways he wrings humor and pathos out of stripped-down syntax and seemingly passive protagonists . . . The stories deliver more than their fair share of bitter laughs, philosophical conundrums and existential gut punches.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“A mix of science fiction, absurdist humor and Beckettian monologue, with storytelling techniques that twist narrative into a computer-esque objectivism; think Donald Barthleme’s strangest pyrotechnics in a Philip K. Dick or Haruki Murakami world . . . [Charles Yu is ] the computer century’s heir to Philip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury.”
—Shelf Awareness

“Yu’s workman-like sentences are unexpectedly emotive, while also being almost always very funny . . . As with his critically acclaimed, much-adored 2010 debut novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Yu’s new baker’s dozen of satiric stories tell of a future that’s really just an exaggerated present . . . Like the best science fiction writers, Yu provides seemingly gratuitous logistical information to mitigate any hint of farce . . . Yu is a master of the slow reveal. It sometimes takes pages to understand where we are and why, but as the chatty protagonists joke and confess their deepest pains, details accrue and outlines fill in. And when we are finally oriented, the universe he has created feels eerily complete . . . Imaginary lands become possible worlds; cunning tricks grow into game theory; playing pretend morphs into explorations of false consciousness. Each story in Sorry Please Thank You is staggeringly smart, and none feel like anything but entertainment. Cultish fans of the NBC comedy “Community,’’ this book is for you.”
The Boston Globe

“I don’t know that there’s a better story-bending talent at work than Yu since the rise of George Saunders . . . If you take a longer view you can see that Yu’s success has many parents, from the oft-quoted Stein, the tone of Hemingway and Beckett, Virginia Woolf’s fanciful short creations (as in, say, the story “Kew Gardens”), Calvino’s game-faced fantasies and the low-key but powerful satire of Kurt Vonnegut . . . a tour-de-force.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR.org

“Lovely and heartfelt . . . A brilliantly manic ride . . . Yu has an undeniable gift for describing, in clean, economical prose, the mechanics of things that don’t exist or are impossible.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Stand back. The lead story in Sorry Please Thank You, this spritely new collection by L.A. writer Charles Yu, has the title ‘Standard Loneliness Package’ and it announces that a sly, nimble fantasist with a speculative edge is at work here. [An] adroit piece of work . . . Experiment plus emotion, we don’t often find these two elements together, but when it happens, as it does in most of these stories . . . it makes for terrific reading for the heart as well as the head.”
—Alan Cheuse for NPR’s All Things Considered

“Charles Yu won us over with his weird, melancholy novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and now he’s back . . . [These] stories are psychological studies of neurotic nerds, struggling to stay alive as they fight liches and loneliness. They’re beautiful, strange, and funny.”
—io9

“Yu’s bold, playful voice evokes a computer-era Donald Barthelme, but his stylistic journey into the vast universe that is the human mind is refreshingly distinctive.”
Booklist

“Laugh-out-loud moments of strangeness artfully exist in a contemporary fictional structure . . . With this collection, steeped in originality, we get echoes of David Foster Wallace’s early collection, Girl with the Curious Hair. Like Wallace, Yu abandons the more self-serving, insular metafiction of the past 40 years for a fresher form. Using technology, pop culture, etc., he attempts to write fiction that can be best shared with readers, not just critics or scholars. Yu, in fact, marries science and literature . . . Characteristic of his work, Yu mixes the beauty of human emotion with the science fiction to invent highly original, highly entertaining scenes and stories. He poses questions of reality and existence. You first think you’re chuckling to yourself. Then, without warning, you‘ve got that ‘reaching final altitude’ feeling in your stomach—a sudden change . . . Yu examines what it means to exist now and, in his own way, what it will mean in the future. It’s almost as if these stories, through their science fiction and futuristic themes twinned with a humorous yet moving style, strive to reinvent what we know as metafiction . . . Yu follows Vonnegut and Wallace in this style of metafictional, literary pilgrimage”
Paste Magazine

“Grade A- . . . Pick it up and kiss your weekend good-bye . . . The best comparisons, though it feels a little hyperbolic to say, might be made with Vonnegut’s more pessimistic novels, books like Cat’s Cradle, Deadeye Dick, and Timequake. With Sorry Please Thank You, Yu has achieved something rare: an aggressively imagined work of fiction in which the concepts (mostly) serve the characters.”
Boston Phoenix

“Charles Yu’s outstanding collection Sorry Please Thank You collects short fiction by the author who gave us the terrific How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. Yu’s blend of literary fiction’s style with sci-fi’s wild ideas is beautifully realized here, especially in the moving gem “Standard Loneliness Package.” One of the year’s best collections in any genre.”
The Austin American-Statesman

“Enchanting . . . Yu’s ability to assume widely diverging roles as a storyteller is dazzling . . . Those not bothered by diverse writing styles will find reading Yu to be an exciting adventure.”
Library Journal

“Like his debut novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu’s new collection of stories mixes humor and clever conceits with a perfect deadpan delivery . . . Sharp, crisp insights that will have you chuckling and shaking your head.”
Los Angeles Times

“The author behind three of the most unusual books of fiction published in the past five years . . . Untraditional but weirdly glorious narratives that, for all their experimental form, end up carrying as much or even more emotional force as your original, more conventional vessel would have.”
Poets and Writers

“In his new collection, Charles Yu applies his trademark winking, pop-culture-infused, sci-fi mentality to a series of short stories . . . Clever and cutting.”
Flavorwire

“Whether Yu’s work is dark, thought provoking, humorous, or all of the above, it’s always compulsively readable.”
Owl and Bear

“Looking for the next great voice in fiction? Young author Charles Yu’s short stories beg comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams, but he’s funnier than both.”
Men’s Health

“Entertaining . . . Like a friend who stops by unexpectedly with a bunch of mind-bending tales to share . . . had me laughing . . . go order a copy.”
—Geekdad, Wired Magazine

“Impressive . . . Charts eclectic territory, from a zombie in a megamart to a new pharmaceutical drug that generates a sense of purpose, and explores retreats from reality and emotion . . . [Am] amusing send up American consumer culture.”
Publishers Weekly