Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu [7/10]

Having tagged Charles Yu as a science fiction author (his wonderful How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe cluing me in), it took me a couple of pages to realize that “Interior Chinatown” is a quirky and quirkily told literary novel tackling stereotypes (Asian, Hollywood) and roleplaying in life. Daringly told in the second person, it walks in the shoes of Willie Wu, a downtrodden Chinese American stuck playing the part of Generic Asian Man Number Three/Delivery Guy but dreaming of attaining Kung Fu Guy. His life swirls among his family’s in a blur of performance and longing, until love arrives and he must choose between ambition and happiness. Super playful, forever inventive, often chuckle-aloud amusing, Interior Chinatown is a bracing corrective to my 2020 diet of seriousness, at the same time thrusting a sharp epee at my preconceptions. And Yu’s style is so nimble that the novel races along. A wonderful novel.

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