Philadelphia’s 2023 book of the year: “Interior Chinatown”
Philly’s all-city read this year is “Interior Chinatown” by Charles Yu.
What’s happening: The novel was selected as the 2023 One Book, One Philadelphia, which is run by the Free Library and the city.
Why it matters: The literary program encourages residents to read and discuss the same book, while promoting literacy and the importance of libraries.
Zoom in: Yu’s 2020 “Interior Chinatown” is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2020 National Book Award for fiction.
Yu has written for HBO’s “Westworld” and co-produced FX’s “Legion.”
How it works: Members of the Free Library can pick up copies of “Interior Chinatown” at their local library or download an audiobook or ebook.
The program, which runs from April 20 to June 22, features book discussions, panels, cooking programs, workshops and film screenings.
Details: Written as a screenplay, the humorous Hollywood satire follows “Generic Asian Man” and actor Willis Wu in his efforts to move from an extra to a starring role.
The book “explores in devastating (and darkly hilarious) fashion Hollywood’s penchant for promoting clichés about Asians and Asian-Americans,” per The New York Times.
Quick tip: The book is short and could be read in a single sitting.
Zoom in: Philadelphia’s own Chinatown is currently at a crossroads as the community debates the 76ers’ proposal to build a new stadium on the neighborhood’s border.
The city’s Chinatown has fought off large-scale developments for decades in an effort to preserve the neighborhood from gentrification and displacement.
What he’s saying: Yu tells Axios the book’s lighter tone could offer a way to start difficult conversations around race, representation and perceptions.
“Willis, who is an Asian guy in America, … is someone who is marginalized,” he says. “It gives you an inside voice that you don’t normally get to see a lot of. ”
Of note: Youth companion titles are “American Born Chinese” by Gene Luen Yang and “Drawn Together” by Minh Lê.