Read Across Lawrence 2022 selection: ‘Interior Chinatown,’ by Charles Yu

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The Lawrence Public Library has announced its Read Across Lawrence selection for 2022, plus several upcoming events to accompany it.

“Interior Chinatown,” by Charles Yu, is a National Book Award winner, New York Times bestseller and a “deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play,” according to LPL.

Read the book in March — participants can get the book/eBook at this link, and follow the library on Facebook and Instagram for random book giveaways. Then, April is full of planned events to complement the book selection. Keep an eye on this page for new information on book talks and programs. (We’ve also added the events to our community calendar — search for “Read Across Lawrence” or look for the tag in Lawrence Public Library red to find them.)

Events will wrap with “An Evening with Charles Yu,” a virtual talk set for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21. Yu will be in conversation with Derek Kwan, executive director of the Lied Center.

“They will discuss screenwriting, representation, and identity in Yu’s playful but heartfelt latest work, Interior Chinatown. Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet is a send-up of Hollywood tropes and Asian stereotypes—a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play,” according to the event page. Read more at this link.

“When we read the same story together, we can focus on the similarities of our human experience. It endears us to each other, builds empathy, and ultimately a stronger community,” said Brad Allen, executive director of the library.

Here’s the book synopsis:

“Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as the protagonist in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but always he is relegated to a prop. Yet every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. Or is it?

“After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family. Infinitely inventive and deeply personal, exploring the themes of pop culture, assimilation, and immigration—Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet.”

In addition, Read Across Lawrence is narrowing its focus — there’s no book selection for kids or teens, but there will be more to look forward to this summer.

“In 2012, Lawrence Public Library expanded their RAL program to include a teen and kid selection. A variety of programs and events specific to these age groups ran parallel throughout Read Across Lawrence,” according to LPL. “In 2022, we shifted Read Across Lawrence back to an adults-only community read, using our annual Summer Reading Challenge as our youth-focused literacy initiative.”

Learn more about this year’s and previous Read Across Lawrence selections at this link.

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Check our community calendar for more:

Click here for our calendar of events!
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