Charles Wu wins US National Book Award for Hollywood satire, Interior Chinatown

A preview of Saturday’s books pages and roundup of the latest literary news

Charles Yu,  winner of  the US National Book Award for fiction  for his satire, Interior Chinatown, a sendup of Hollywood and Asian-American stereotypes. Photograph: Rozette Rago/The New York Times

Charles Yu, winner of the US National Book Award for fiction for his satire, Interior Chinatown, a sendup of Hollywood and Asian-American stereotypes. Photograph: Rozette Rago/The New York Times

 

Charles Yu has won the US National Book Award for fiction for his mind-bending satire, Interior Chinatown, a sendup of Hollywood and Asian-American stereotypes and a deeply affecting and hilarious novel about race, assimilation and popular culture.

The novel, published in November by Europa Editions (and in US by Pantheon Books), is written in the form of a screenplay and follows an Asian film actor stuck in the background roles of “Generic Asian Man” while yearning to one day become the “Kung Fu Guy”.

In a virtually-streamed ceremony, the judges praised the book as a “wonderfully inventive work. By turns hilarious and flat-out heartbreaking, Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown is a bright, bold, gut punch of a novel.” 

When accepting the award on camera, Yu was visibly surprised, laughing in disbelief. “I can’t feel anything in my body right now. I prepared nothing, which tells you about how realistic I thought this was,” he said. “There’s not many reasons for hope right now but to be here, hearing about all these books, having read some of them and going on to read many more, it is what keeps me going, and I hope that this community can sustain other people in the same way. I hope in some small way my book can also do that for people.”

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne won the nonfiction award; Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri and Morgan Giles won the translated literature prize; and the young people’s literature prize went to King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender.

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When you buy The Irish Times in any Eason branch this Saturday, you can purchase the Irish Book of the Year 2019, Overcoming by Vicky Phelan, for just €4.99, a saving of €6. Read our review.

Reviews are Colm Tóibín on Walking with Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne; Laird Hunt on When the Lights Go Out by Carys Bray; Gearóid O Tuathaigh on The Dead of the Irish Revolution by Eunan O’Halpin and Daithí Ó Corráin; Sama Ghosh on Xstabeth by David Keenan; Paschal Donohoe on Greed is Dead by Paul Collier and John Kay; Abi Andrews on Fathoms by Rebecca Gibbs; Sarah on Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam; and Claire Hennessy on the best new YA fiction.

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Environmental NGO Friends of the Earth, children’s publisher Little Island Books and bestselling author Oisín McGann are running a crowdfunderto help make a unique children’s book about climate change, A Short, Hopeful Guide to Climate Change. The book, which is aimed at the 12-14 age bracket combines climate science with an empowering and positive message for young readers. The team behind the book are hoping to raise €15,000 by December 31st . They have raised almost €3,000 in their first week of crowdfunding, reaching almost 20 per cent of the funds required to produce the book. Everyone who donates to the crowdfunder will receive a digital preview by Christmas and a physical copy of the book when it is released next spring.

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The An Post Irish Book Awards ceremony is online this year, meaning that everyone can tune in to watch. RTÉ’s Evelyn O’Rourke will announce the winners of each of the 16 categories, including Novel of the Year, Children’s (Junior and Senior), Cookery, Crime Fiction, Popular Fiction, Nonfiction, Sports, Short Story, Poetry, Teen, Young Adult and Irish Language.

The 2020 shortlist is bursting with lots of big names and newcomers and includes the likes of Graham Norton, Marian Keyes, Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Rob Kearney, Mary McAleese, Bernard Brogan, Catherine Ryan Howard, Seán O’Brien, Ray D’Arcy, Maggie O’Farrell, Emily Hourican, Roddy Doyle, Dara Ó Briain and many more. Tune in to watch online at rte.ie/culture on November 25th at 7.30pm.

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Michelle Moloney King
Michelle Moloney King

Michelle Moloney King, a native of Carron, Cashel, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the US poetry journal, Dream Journal. Pushcart is a major literary prize – a writer must be published in a literary journal nominated by its editor. She was selected out of 1,350 poets.

She found a love for avant-garde writing and knowing that experimental poetry can be hard to place she founded the poetry journal Beir Bua last month, going live on November 1st with issue one. To read more about her work or to find poetry resources see her site michellemoloneyking.wordpress.com

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