Interior Chinatown

Interior Chinatown (2020) by Charles Yu is a very quick read, and has one of the most interesting formats that I’ve read-novel-as-screenplay! I didn’t know when I picked it out to read that it won the National Book Award in 2020, but I’m not surprised.

Yu tells the story of Willis Wu, who plays “Generic Asian Man” on a cop show called Black and White, which doesn’t even include him, but his aspiration is to be “Kung Fu Guy” which only a very few Asian actors are able to ever be. Willis takes care of his parents, sits out his mandated 6-week “death” when he is killed on the show, and tries to raise his own family.

It is so well done, and illuminates the invisibility of Asian people in American culture, especially Hollywood. There is some anti-fatness, specifically a character named “Fatty Choi” who has the nickname, likely because of his size, but he is not portrayed in a negative way.

But there is also a passage that recognizes many of the groups that are invisible in Western culture, such as older people, “people that are overweight,” and “people that don’t conform to conventional Western beauty standards.” This recognition in a National Book Award-winning title that fat people are a group invisible in Western culture is huge, and while it is not a perfect representation, recognition is a step towards change.

Highly recommend if you want a quick, thought-provoking, anti-racist novel that tells a story in an unusual way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: