Incoming Class of 2022 Featured Work

Interior Chinatown

Charles Yu

In this genre-bending book, all the world’s a stage, and all the people merely players. Some have named starring roles. Others are limited to nonspeaking background roles such as Ethnic Recurring, Generic Asian Man Number Three, and Delivery Guy. Such are the roles available to our protagonist, Willis Wu, whose highest aspiration is to become Kung Fu Guy in the long-running television series Black and White. By the end of the book, Willis comes to recognize the invisible, historical forces circumscribing his world, and struggles with what it would mean to break free and go off-script—to understand “How to feel, how to be yourself. Not how to perform or act. How to be”—and invites us to do the same. Exploring an American history of immigration, marginalization, assimilation, racism, and mass media, Interior Chinatown asks, “Who gets to be an American? What does an American look like?”

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