Charles Yu won the National Book Award for fiction on Wednesday for his mind-bending satire, “Interior Chinatown,” a sendup of Hollywood and Asian-American stereotypes.
The novel, written in the form of a screenplay, features an aspiring actor named Willis Wu who confronts casual racism and the cruel hierarchies of the entertainment world in his quest to graduate from bit roles as the “Delivery Guy” or “Silent Henchman.” The judges praised the novel as “wonderfully inventive” and “by turns hilarious and flat out heartbreaking.”Mr. Yu, who was one of the National Book Foundation’s Five Under 35 most promising writers in America in 2007, worked as a lawyer before he quit to pursue writing.
“Interior Chinatown” is his fourth book.
“I can’t feel anything in my body right now,” a visibly stunned Mr. Yu said during his acceptance speech, adding that he was so certain he wouldn’t win that he didn’t prepare remarks and wondered aloud if he was in a simulation.
“I’m going to go melt into a puddle right now,” he said.