Fall 2022

Interior Chinatown book cover

Interior Chinatown
Charles Yu

In this genre-bending book, all the world’s a stage, and all the people merely players. Some have named starring roles. Others are limited to nonspeaking background roles such as Ethnic Recurring, Generic Asian Man Number Three, and Delivery Guy. Such are the roles available to our protagonist, Willis Wu, whose highest aspiration is to become Kung Fu Guy in the long-running television series Black and White. By the end of the book, Willis comes to recognize the invisible, historical forces circumscribing his world, and struggles with what it would mean to break free and go off-script—to understand “How to feel, how to be yourself. Not how to perform or act. How to be”—and invites us to do the same.

One of our student reviewers praised Interior Chinatown for its “unique and compelling examination of Asian-American identity and media representation.” Another student reviewer described the book as “storytelling like I have never seen or read before.” Exploring an American history of immigration, marginalization, assimilation, racism, and mass media, Interior Chinatown asks, “Who gets to be an American? What does an American look like?”

Charles Yu

Charles Yu is the author of four books, including Interior Chinatown (the winner of the 2020 National Book Award for fiction), and the novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (a New York Times Notable Book and a Time magazine best book of the year). He received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award and was nominated for two Writers Guild of America Awards for his work on the HBO series, Westworld. He has also written for shows on FX, AMC, and HBO. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired, among other publications. Together with TaiwaneseAmerican.org, he established the Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Writing Prizes, in honor of his parents.

Charles Yu photograph

News and Events

On the Same Page presents: Beyond Kung Fu Guy: AAPI Actors and Filmmakers in Conversation
Tuesday, September 13, 2022 | 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. | Zoom Webinar

Celia Au, Kelvin Han Yee, and Perry Yung discuss their experiences as Asian American in Hollywood. Moderated by SanSan Kwan, Professor of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley; and Philip Gotanda, Professor of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley.

On the Same Page presents: Chinatown in Translation: Scholars in Conversation
Wednesday, October 5, 2022 | 5-6:30 p.m. | Zoom Webinar

Speakers
Andrew Way Leong, Professor of English, UC Berkeley
Shan Te-hsing, Distinguished Research Fellow, Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica

Moderators
Harvey Dong, Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
Khatharya Um, Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

On the Same Page x Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) present: San Francisco Chinatown Walking Tour
Saturday, October 15, 2022 | 11 a.m.-1 p.m. | SF Chinatown. Exact meeting location will be sent to registered and confirmed attendees.

We will learn the ways in which Chinatown has always been, and often still continues to be, its own independent, self-sufficient community. For example, we will learn about the rebuilding of Chinatown after the 1906 Earthquake, in which the Chinese community crowdsourced funding from overseas in order to reconstruct faster than the rest of SF. The city was trying to relocate Chinatown to the outskirts of the city, and the Chinatown community was able to re-establish itself in its original location. We look at several historical institutions in Chinatown and the impact that they have on the neighborhood today. We will begin with a one-hour walking tour of Chinatown (11:00 AM-12:00 noon), followed by a self-guided exploration of the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) museum starting at 12:00 noon.

Open only to current UC Berkeley undergraduates on a first come, first served basis. Space is limited. Sign up here: https://forms.gle/XRZympEF4pViEPys7

On the Same Page Presents – Interior Chinatown: An Evening with Charles Yu and Philip Kan Gotanda
Friday, August 26, 2022 | 7-8 p.m. | Hertz Hall

Meet the author live and in person! Free and open to the public.

Author Charles Yu: ‘Interior Chinatown’ is about roles and how we play them
By Anne Brice, Berkeley News| AUGUST 24, 2022

Charles Yu, discusses his 2020 book, Interior Chinatown, which goes inside the mind of a young Asian American man trying to make it in Hollywood. Incoming UC Berkeley students read the book over the summer as part of On The Same Page, a program from the College of Letters and Science, so that they’d have something in common to talk about throughout the year — socially, in classes and at events designed to explore the book’s themes.

Listen now >

Resources

UC Berkeley Library Research Guide on Interior Chinatown
Find information sources related to Chinatowns, Chinese Americans in Hollywood, Chinese migration to the U.S., Chinese Americans and social justice, Chinese American voices, and more.

Goodreads Community: On the Same Page
This is a group where students, faculty and staff at UC Berkeley can discuss the On the Same Page selection.

A Year on Angel Island: Immigration Histories and Futures
In 2022-2023, UC Berkeley will sponsor a series of music and dance performances, exhibitions, public conversations, and courses using Angel Island as a jumping-off point for discussion about race in America, global migration, and architectures of incarceration. We’ll use the arts, design, and historical and landscape interpretation to understand current events and envision better futures.

Bloom Asian American Community Program
Bloom, originally the Asian Pacific American Theme House, was established in 1992 and is a residence for students who have an interest in Asian American history, culture, and contemporary issues. Bloom provides a small community experience in a large university. The program offers a dynamic environment for interaction and learning through academic and social activities such as group discussions, cultural events, and community service.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Health Research Group (AAPIHRG)
We strive to improve the health of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities through research, community service, and social activism. Undergraduates can pursue a Certificate in Asian American Community Health (CAACH).

AAPI Community COVID Archival Project
This project is a volunteer-led and guided organization, founded in 2021, with a mission to archive and preserve the voices and stories of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities during the COVID-19 pandemic for future generations. The archive is housed within the Ethnic Studies Library at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Asian American Research Center
Launched in 2020, the Asian American Research Center at UC Berkeley is a preeminent research center for the study of Asian Americans/Asian diasporas in national, hemispheric, and global contexts. It brings together a vibrant, innovative, and dynamic assemblage of scholars, researchers, policy-makers, community organizers, and cultural producers to address a multiplicity of interests and concerns. The Center work to raise public awareness of Asian American/diaspora issues and advance cutting-edge research, develop innovative curricula, and promote community-campus engagement.

Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies (AADS) Program
The Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Program (AAADS) is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of historical and contemporary experiences of Americans of Asian ancestry, and the framing of this knowledge and critical understanding within local, national, and global contexts.

C. V. Starr East Asian Library and Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies
Bursting with treasures — including manuscripts, thousands of woodblock editions, and an oracle bone bearing some of the oldest written Chinese script — the library is home to one of the largest collections of East Asian materials in North America. The Fong Yun Wah Rare Book Room holds about 40,000 items, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean manuscripts and imprints; Japanese historical maps; and early Buddhist scriptures. Served by librarians dedicated to opening the library’s resources to researchers around the world, EAL acts as a bridge between East and West, connecting California with its neighbors across the Pacific.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Standing Committee (AAPISC)
The work of AAPISC is a comprehensive effort by Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty, and alumni to assess and provide recommendations on how to realize for members of our community the stated mission of the UC Berkeley Division of Equity & Inclusion “to create a campus where all Berkeley students, faculty, and staff feel respected, supported, and valued.”

Asian Pacific American Systemwide Alliance (APASA)
APASA strives to promote the general welfare of Asian Pacific Islander (API) staff, faculty, and students at the University of California, Berkeley; strengthen the professional and social networking between API staff and faculty, the Berkeley campus community, the University of California systemwide, and the general public; encourage the recruitment, hiring, promotion, and retention of API faculty, staff, and students; review and assess campus issues and their impact on the API campus community; act as an informative and proactive organization to address, develop, and influence policy recommendations that affect the Asian Pacific Islander community on the Berkeley campus; and connect to the (API) community beyond the Berkeley campus.

Chinese Chapter of the Cal Alumni Association
The Chinese Chapter of the California Alumni Association (CAA) is a descendant of the Chinese Student Club formed over 100 years ago to help ethnic Chinese students overcome social and economic barriers while attending UC Berkeley. It is one of the oldest chapters of CAA’s 75 chartered chapters.

Watch: A Brief History of the Chinese Chapter of the California Alumni Association (09:05)

Chang-Lin Tien teaching in front of a blackboard
Chang-Lin Tien is remembered as a talented teacher and a favorite with students. Even in his years as chancellor at UC Berkeley, Tien made time to mentor graduate students and teach classes in his chosen field of mechanical engineering. (Undated photo by Peg Skorpinski/UC Berkeley)

AAPI in Hollywood: Breaking Through with Lasting Impact in the Industry (March 7, 2022)

2021 was a harrowing year in anti-Asian violence, drawing attention to the ways that Asians and Asian Americans are offered such limited space within Hollywood, and the connection between racist historic exclusion and its consequences for America’s wider cultural imaginary. Coinciding with the launch of a scholarship for AAPI creatives, BCNM announces “AAPI in Hollywood” an evening event with internationally acclaimed actor and Berkeley native Daniel Wu (Into the Badlands, Tomb Raider) and Fresh off the Boat and Jumanji Producer Melvin Mar, about their experiences breaking into the industry and forging their own space within it.

Asian American Histories of the United States with Professor Catherine Ceniza Choy
The Takeaway, August 4, 2022

Dr. Catherine Ceniza Choy is a professor of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, and Comparative Ethnic Studies at the University of California Berkeley. In this episode of The Takeaway, host Melissa Harris-Perry speaks with Dr. Choy about her new book, Asian American Histories of the United States, which upends cultural narratives about Asian Americans, highlights overlooked identities, and catalogs stories of resistance in these communities across the decades.

Beyond Campus

Interior Chinatown Reader’s Guide (Penguin Random House)
Interested in hosting a reading group or book club with classmates, hallmates, coworkers, colleagues, and friends? Check out this Reader’s Guide with questions and topics for discussion.

Asian American Research Center (AARC), Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Program (AAADS) at University of California, Berkeley, and Jinan University, Guangdong, China
“Diasporic Futures: Sinophobia, Techno-Political Strife, and the Politics of Care”
The 30th Anniversary Conference of the
International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas (ISSCO)
世界海外华人研究学会

November 11–12, 2022
Kabuki Hotel, San Francisco, CA

Keynote Speaker: Professor Mae Ngai, Columbia University

Register here for the conference by October 18. No on-site registration. https://na.eventscloud.com/issco

Please direct all communications to Prof. L. Ling-chi Wang, conference coordinator, at lcwang@berkeley.edu.

SFMOMA
Center for Asian American Media: Representing Chinatown

March 24–June 30, 2022
Koret Education Center, Floor 2

Co-organized with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Representing Chinatown explores the ways generations of Asian American residents, artists, and filmmakers have recorded the people, places, and community events of San Francisco’s Chinatown. New commissions by Macro Waves and Chelsea Ryoko Wong capture the sights, sounds, and textures of this iconic neighborhood as a site of collective resistance and resilience. Additionally, the artist Reagan Louie has curated a selection of photographs and ephemera from CAAM’s institutional history and the collections of local activists, including the personal archives of the late filmmaker Loni Ding.

The public can access Representing Chinatown for free in the Koret Education Center on Floor 2.

Asian Art Museum
Thursday Nights: Lenora Lee Dance Presents “Convergent Waves: SF”
Thursday, June 9, 2022, 6 p.m.

From award-winning multimedia dance company Lenora Lee Dance comes its newest site-responsive performance piece, “Convergent Waves: SF.” At this world premiere event, you will be guided through a journey set in the Asian Art Museum, where stories of community agency, resilience, and transformation unfold. The dance, to music by Vijay Iyer, Tatsu Aoki, and Francis Wong, is a collective statement for the preservation of community, as neighborhoods across the country face cultural erosion, loss of businesses, and displacement as a result of both the pandemic and ongoing gentrification.

Presidio Theatre 
Both Eyes Open
June 24-26, 2022

a chamber opera
composer Max Duykers
librettist Philip Kan Gotanda
director Melissa Weaver
conductor Benjamin Makino
designers Kwame Braun, Matthew E. Jones, Maria Christoff

featuring
Suchan Kim, baritone
Kalean Ung, soprano
John Duykers, tenor
Joel Davel, marimba lumina
Marja Mutru, piano

Access a Copy of This Year’s Book

New students (first-year admits and transfers) received an email in June 2022 with a unique redemption link to download a free copy of this year’s book. Active Senate faculty received an email in April 2022 with a unique redemption link to download a free copy of this year’s book.

International students: need help accessing your copy of this year’s book? Refer to this resource: Redemption code instructions for international students

Library

Three students on Memorial Glade

Faculty Planning Committee

Faculty with expertise in the themes of this year’s selection, from a wide range of disciplines, plan engaging events and activities for students throughout the academic year. In previous years, the faculty planning committee has organized panels, roundtables, film screenings, concerts, faculty dialogues, karaoke nights, contests, and more. If you would like to join our efforts, please email Aileen Liu.

Lok Siu
Associate Professor, Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies

Khatharya Um
Associate Professor, Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies

Harvey Dong
Continuing Lecturer, Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies

Julian Chun-Chung Chow
Hutto-Patterson Charitable Foundation Professor, School of Social Welfare

SanSan Kwan
Associate Professor, Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

Philip Kan Gotanda
Professor, Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

Acknowledgments

Selection Committee
Kristina Bush, Digital Literacies Librarian
Michael Cohen, American Studies and African American Studies
Lia Fernald, Community Health Sciences
Maggie Hunter, Senior Director of the Centers for Educational Justice and Community Engagement
Jake Kosek, Geography
Fiona McFarlane, English
Aileen Liu, Chair, Director of Curricular Engagement Initiatives

Student Reviewers
Alessi Ayvaz, Helen Berg, Maria Clara Castro, Kaivallya Dasu, Fiona Gu, Melanie Gurrola, Michael Kamenis, Manbhavni Kaur, Zachary Khouri, Evelyn Kong, Vanessa Luna, Lucy Revina, and Merve Ozdemir

Special thanks to Sonya Lee, Belinda White, Corliss Lee, Sine Hwang Jensen, Dave Murray, Bridget Bernet, Hao Tia, and Madeleine Denman.

Philip Kan Gotanda and Charles Yu
Philip Kan Gotanda and Charles Yu in Durant Hall Atrium, August 26, 2022. (Photo credit: Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani)