Not relevant to startup investors in any direct sense. That said, I never get in enough fiction, and am especially ashamed by my poor literary diet conspicuously lacking in Asian-American authors. A quick and enjoyable read with an innovative method of using screenplay language to talk about the different roles we are given and how we as individuals wrestle against those assigned roles. Founders, funders, philanthropists...


  • Asian American male experience is one of being unable to define one's role, and also having a ceiling to the roles that we are allowed to play
  • Asian American male and female differences in experience and its counterplay
  • Big Brother—the character who found salvation through authenticity but also mainstream acceptance via assimilation.
  • "Water hates poor people", with regard to flooding


  • Solid rundown of all anti Asian-American legislation passed in the United States
  • Bruce Lee was proof of the dream of assimilation, but Hard cases make bad law (clearly shows that Yu is a law school grad)
  • In doing so, Yu’s writing adeptly straddles the border between storytelling and Asian-American Studies seminar. US immigration policy is outlined. Sections are prefaced by quotes from journalist Bonnie Tsui, sociologist Erving Goffman, and historian Philip Choy. Within the story, characters often directly present sociological ideas either in dialogue or internal reflection.


  • N/A

Bonus Resources

“You’re here, supposedly, in a new land full of opportunity,” Willis explains, “but somehow have gotten trapped in a pretend version of the old country.”

“When he steps up and starts slaying ‘Country Roads,’ try not to laugh … because by the time he gets to ‘West Virginia, mountain mama’ you’re going to be singing along, and by the time he’s done you might understand why a 77-year-old guy from a tiny island in the Taiwan strait who’s been in a foreign country two-thirds of his life can nail a song, note perfect, about wanting to go home.”

All the World’s a Stage: On Charles Yu’s “Interior Chinatown” - Los Angeles Review of Books
Pete Hsu visits “Interior Chinatown,” the new novel by Charles Yu.
Captures lots of the good quotes very well.

“Black and White always look good. A lot of it has to do with the lighting, designed to hit their faces just right. […] Someday you want the light to hit your face like that. To look like the hero. Or for a moment to actually be the hero.”

“you came here, your parents and their parents and their parents, and you always seem to have just arrived and yet never seem to have actually arrived.”

And maybe most central to the novel’s thesis is when Willis is put on trial and Older Brother breaks down the specific conundrum of Asian America, arguing that “[Willis is] asking to be treated like an American. A real American. Because, honestly, when you think American, what color do you see? White? Black? We’ve been here two hundred years. […] Why doesn’t this face register as American?”

“Interior Chinatown” by Charles Yu
Earlier this year, a fire broke out in the Chinatown archive of New York’s Museum of Chinese in America, spurring a tremendous outpouring of sympathy and support from those fearing that a crucial c…
Earlier this year, a fire broke out in the Chinatown archive of New York’s Museum of Chinese in America, spurring a tremendous outpouring of sympathy and support from those fearing that a crucial chapter in the nation’s history was lost forever. A few days later, newspaper reports from that normally bustling neighborhood indicated that, due largely to worries over the coronavirus, tourists and locals alike were staying away in droves. Much of MoCA’s archive turned out to be salvageable, and diners and shoppers began trickling back downtown, but that juxtaposition of headlines still shows the ambivalence much of mainstream America feels about its Chinese population.
‘Interior Chinatown’ Puts That Guy In The Background Front And Center
Charles Yu’s new novel follows a TV actor who often gets stuck playing generic Asian men. Yu says he was inspired by shows that set episodes in Chinatown — but keep Asian actors in the background.
This story to me came at a time in my life when, yes, I'd been working in TV for a couple of years. But I'm also reaching age where my own parents are, you know, aging. And they've been in America for decades, more than 50 years. And my my own kids are reaching an age, too, where they're asking questions. They can watch the news, and they can ask, are we real Americans? You know, is there a qualifier in front of that? And so positioned between them, as this sort of middle aged writer, I wanted to write a book about what it's like from all of their perspectives.
Interior Chinatown: A Novel | Washington Independent Review of Books
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"She says that telling a love story is something one person does. Being in love takes two people. Putting her on a pedestal is just a different way of being alone."