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Interior Chinatown

Charles Yu

“We’re trapped as guest stars in a small ghetto on a very special episode. Minor characters locked into a story that doesn’t quite know what to do with us. After two centuries here, why are we still not Americans? Why do we keep falling out of the picture?”

Interior Chinatown is about “Generic Asian Man” Willis Wu and his quest to make it as a movie star, and become known to audiences worldwide as “Kung Fu Guy.” Told in a narrative style of a screenplay, I found this story playful and inventive. Charles Yu’s perspective on the particular brand of racism Asians face under white supremacy is unlike anything else I have read. Due to the nature of its telling it was sometimes difficult to know where the movie ended and Wu’s life began, and I’m thinking that is probably the point.

Two things I really loved about this novel was the way it positions the needs of the Asian community as we try to disentangle ourselves from white supremacy. As we all fight for freedom and justice for all everyone is going to need different things and THAT IS OKAY. But fighting over the crumbs will get us nowhere. I have heard non-Black POC constantly decry “Well what about us!” and that sorely misses the point. Although this book doesn’t delve too deeply into that, I at least appreciate the nuance it provides when discussing how racism in the United States affects Asians in particular. I learned more than I was expecting too and I still think about it all the time. I also really loved the theme around family and success. To me this is the heartbeat of the story. As Wu assimilates deeper and deeper into Hollywood and finds success, what did he have to give up in order to do so? Is that really “success” then?

I picked up this book because of Jess @readingmountains and I am so glad I did so. I loved this one whole heartedly and I think a lot of you here would too.

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