1) What do you make of the structure of the book? Why do you think Charles Yu chose to write it in the form of a screenplay? How did the format change your reading experience?
2) How did the book affect your understanding of America’s history of anti-Asian discrimination?
3) “Ever since you were a boy, you’ve dreamt of being Kung Fu Guy,” Yu writes early in the book. How does Willis’s dream change by the end of the book? Why does the role of “Kung Fu Guy” no longer hold the same allure for him?
4) How have depictions of race on TV or film influenced your understanding of race (either positively or negatively)? Does the fictional show “Black and White” remind you of television shows or films you have watched? How did Interior Chinatown affect how you think about representation and cultural stereotypes in TV and film?
5) Yu writes that Willis’ parents “knew that behind them was a historical backdrop, that they were part of a prestigious project, with the sweep and scope of a grand American narrative.” How do their stories show the limits of the American dream?
6) How has the Corona virus exacerbated long-standing prejudices against Asians and Asian-Americans? What are some concrete examples that you have noticed either personally or through the media?
7) One stereotype of Asian-Americans is that they are the “model minority” and have achieved success and wealth in American society. What is the actual more complicated reality of AsianAmericans across the United States? Try to look up some statistics about economic diversity within the Asian-American community. Here is one link, https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2018/07/12/incomeinequality-in-the-u-s-is-rising-most-rapidly-among-asians/
8) In general, the novel does not concern itself with distinctions among different kinds of Asian-American communities. It is important to recognize how diversified in history, language, and culture the communities that make up the Asian-American diaspora are. Take some time to think about some of the different countries from which Asian-Americans have originated and how markedly distinct their experiences may be.
9) What are your personal experiences with these Asian-American cultures? What intersection points have there been with these cultures in your own life?
10) In Act III, Willis describes the following interaction with his father: “He says something you don’t quite follow. You hear it, you catch most of the individual words, and yet somehow—you don’t understand. This gap, always there. Somehow unbridgeable, whether it’s across a wide Pacific gulf of language and culture, or just a simple sentence, father to son, always distance” (p. 90). Discuss how different generations can sometimes have a difficult time relating to and communicating with one another. How is this tension compounded further in immigrant families? Could you think of any examples of intergenerational differences in your own family?
Some of these questions were drawn from the following study guides: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/216162/interior-chinatown-by-charlesyu/9780307948472/readers-guide/