Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Review: Interior Chinatown

Interior Chinatown Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I know this just won the National Book Award and I finally read it because that included it on the Tournament of Books long list, but I really did not enjoy reading this book. The entire structure and setup is satire? allegory? and the characters aren't real in the sense that characters are, they stand in to play a didactic role about how Asians, particularly the Chinese most of the time but also all Asians, are seen in America. As this was not news to me, I did not particularly enjoy the four hour audiobook lecture about it.

I have liked other books by Charles Yu but experimental fiction will always carry the risk of people liking it or not. I mean, I feel pressured to give it three stars because I like him otherwise and it's winning awards and other people find it very clever but cleverness is not enough to sustain a novel for me and it will never be. I'm a substance over style person.

One thing I noticed in listening to the audiobook is how much the rhythm of his writing feels like George Saunders. I challenge anyone who cares to go back and listen to Tenth of December as read by the author and see if you can hear what I mean. The audiobook narrator of this does not have George's accent, so that's not it, it's something about how the words and sentences fall. (George is also someone who I prefer when he isn't experimenting, funny....)

I listened to this in the Random House Audio Volumes app, where they have given me access to most of their new audiobook titles. I chose to listen since I was interested in this book due to its placement in the ToB, but honestly would not have been drawn to reading it otherwise, and only selected it because it is rather short and could accompany me while working on Thanksgiving prep. Therefore I'm not sure I'd exactly call it a review copy except to say that if they hadn't provided it I would have purchased it just the same, and then ended up even more disappointed that I'd spent an Audible credit on a book that was short yet not enjoyed. It came out way way back in January 2020, when the world felt very different, and I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more at that point in time. But even so, that was around when there were all these great Asian-American forward movies and tv shows coming out (at long last) so is this historical fiction?

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting the Reading Envy blog and podcast. Word verification has become necessary because of spam.