|Born||Charles Chowkai Yu|
January 3, 1976
|Alma mater||UC Berkeley (BS, Molecular and Cell Biology)|
Columbia University Law School (JD)
|Genre||novel, literary fiction, science fiction, experimental fiction, non-fiction|
|Notable works||How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010)|
Interior Chinatown (2020)
|Notable awards||National Book Award for Fiction (2020) (for Interior Chinatown)|
Robert Olen Butler Prize
Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award
Charles Yu (born Charles Chowkai Yu; January 3, 1976) is an American writer. He is the author of the novels How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and Interior Chinatown (National Book Award winner) as well as the short-story collections Third Class Superhero and Sorry Please Thank You. In 2007 he was named a "5 under 35" honoree by the National Book Foundation.
In 2007, Yu was selected by the National Book Foundation as one of its "5 Under 35", a program which highlights the work of the next generation of fiction writers by asking five previous National Book Award fiction Winners and Finalists to select one fiction writer under the age of 35 whose work they find particularly promising and exciting. Yu was selected for the honor by Richard Powers.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
His first novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, was published and released in 2010 and was ranked that year's second-best science fiction novel by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas — and a runner up for the Campbell Memorial Award. The book was also optioned by film director and writer Chris Columbus' production company, 1492 Pictures. The novel was further listed in Time magazine's Top 10 Fiction Books of 2010, The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2010, and was one of Amazon.com's Top 10 SF/F Books for 2010.
In 2020, Yu released his second novel, Interior Chinatown, which uses the screenplay format to tell the tale of Willis Wu, the "Generic Asian Man" who is stuck playing "Background Oriental Male" and occasionally "Delivery Guy" in the fictional police procedural Black and White but who longs to be "Kung Fu Guy" on screens worldwide. On January 27, 2020, Yu appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to discuss the book, as well as the lack of on-screen representation for Asian Americans and the Asian American "model minority myth". Yu further appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition with Scott Simon, January 25, 2020, and on the Los Angeles Review of Books Radio Hour with Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf on February 3, 2020 to further discuss the novel.
Interior Chinatown won the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction, after being announced as a finalist, and made the Long List of the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. and was a Finalist or Shortlisted for the 2020 Prix Médicis étranger awards.
Screenplays and TV writing
In 2016, Yu was a story editor for ten episodes of the first season of the 2016 HBO series Westworld, and co-wrote the episode "Trace Decay". For his work on the show, he received two Writers Guild of America Award Nominations in 2017: Drama Series and New Series.
Yu's non-fiction, essays, book reviews, journalism and other writing have also appeared online and in print in The Atlantic ( "The Pre-pandemic Universe Was the Fiction"), Slate (various reviews and articles on video games such as L.A. Noire and Portal 2), The Wall Street Journal ("Novelist Charles Yu on St. George California Reserve Agricole Rum"), Time ("What It's Like to Never Ever See Yourself on TV"), The Offing ("Thirteen Ways of Looking at 45" about the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump), The New York Times Style Magazine ("George R. R. Martin, Fantasy's Reigning King"), McSweeney's Internet Tendency ("What Kind of World Is This?"), The Morning News ("Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar", a review) and Polygon ("What future artificial intelligence will think of our puny human video games").
He is interviewed by and also interviews Lev Grossman in The Believer and comments on the work of Philip Roth (stating that he has "read more books by Roth than probably any other contemporary writer"), Don DeLillo, and Jonathan Lethem in installments of the "Influenced by" series published by Jaime Clarke in The Believer as well.
Yu graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, majoring and receiving a Bachelor in Arts in molecular and cellular biology and a minor in creative writing, where he "wrote poetry, not fiction" and also "took several poetry workshops with people like Thom Gunn and Ishmael Reed". He obtained his Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School. Yu worked as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell and Bryan Cave as a corporate attorney, as the Director of Business Affairs at Digital Domain, and as an associate general counsel at Belkin International before becoming a full-time fiction and TV writer. He lives near Irvine, California, with his wife, Michelle Jue, and their two children, Sophia and Dylan. His brother is the actor and TV writer (Bob's Burgers), Kelvin Yu.
Awards and accolades
- 2020: National Book Award for Fiction for the novel Interior Chinatown.
- 2017: Writers Guild of America Award Nominations: Drama Series and New Series for writing on HBO's Westworld.
- 2011: The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy for the short story "Standard Loneliness Package", initially published in Lightspeed Magazine November 2010, Issue 6
- 2010: Second Place, John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for the novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
- 2010: Second Best Science Fiction Novel, from the John Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas for the novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
- 2007: Named a "5 under 35" honoree by the National Book Foundation by Richard Powers
- 2005: Robert Olen Butler Prize for the short story "My Last Days As Me", initially published in Sou'wester
- 2004: Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award for the short story "Third Class Superhero", initially published in Mid-American Review, Vol. XXV, No. 2
- How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010, Pantheon ISBN 0-307-37920-5)
- Second Place, John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
- Second Best Sci-Fi Novel, The John Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, The University of Kansas
- One of Time magazine's Top 10 Fiction Books of 2010
- One of The New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2010
- One of Amazon.com's Top 10 SF/F Books for 2010
- Interior Chinatown (2020, Pantheon Books. ISBN 9780307907196)
Short story collections
- Third Class Superhero (2006, Harvest Books ISBN 0-15-603081-0)
- "Third-Class Hero" originally appearing as "Class Three Superhero" in Mid-American Review , Vol. XXV, No. 2
- "My Last Days As Me" originally appearing in Sou'wester
- "Problems for Self-Study" originally appearing in Harvard Review, Issue No. 23 (Fall 2002) (re-published at Harvard Review Online on April 18, 2011)
- Sorry Please Thank You: Stories (2012, Pantheon Books, Random House. ISBN 0-307-90717-1)
Uncollected short stories
- "Systems", The New York Times Magazine, July 7, 2020
- "Bounty", Xprize ANA "Avatars.Inc" Anthology (eBook and also online), March 2020
- The Future of Work: Placebo", Wired, December 17, 2018
- "America, The Ride", Lightspeed, November 2018, Issue 102 (anthologized in Resist: Tales from a Future Worth Fighting Against, edited by Hugh Howey, Gary Whitta & Christie Yant (Broad Reach Publishing 2018))
- "NPC", Lightspeed, September 2018, Issue 100 (anthologized in Press Start to Play, edited by Daniel H. Wilson & John Joseph Adams (Vintage Books 2015))
- "Bookkeeper, Narrator, Gunslinger", Lightspeed, April 2017, Issue 83 (anthologized in Dead Man's Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West, edited by John Joseph Adams (Titan Books, 2014))
- "Subtext®: It Knows What You're Thinking Stop Thinking", Wired, December 13, 2016
- "Fable", The New Yorker, May 23, 2016, Fiction (May 30, 2016 Issue)
- "Re: re: Microwave in the break room doing weird things to fabric of spacetime", Motherboard, Tech by Vice, November 12, 2015
- "The Pre-pandemic Universe Was the Fiction", The Atlantic, April 15, 2020
- "What It's Like to Never See Yourself on TV", TIME, January 21, 2020
- "George R. R. Martin, Fantasy's Reigning King", The New York Times Style Magazine, October 15, 2018
- "What Kind of World Is This?", McSweeney's Internet Tendency, September 7, 2018
- "What future artificial intelligence will think of our puny human video games", Polygon, January 9, 2018
- "Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar", The Morning News
- "Thirteen Ways of Looking at 45", The Offing, May 2, 2017
- "Novelist Charles Yu on St. George California Reserve Agricole Rum", The Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2014
- "Gaming Club 2011: I have seen the future, and it is full of noobs like me.", Slate, December 15, 2011
- "L.A. Noire: The characters in the most realistic video games are still basically puppets.", Slate, December 14, 2011
- "Portal 2: How playing a video game is like writing fiction.", Slate, December 13, 2011
- "Short Stories From Joe Hill, Spiked With Mayhem and Evil", NYT Book Review, October 1, 2019
- "Neal Stephenson's New Novel — Part Tech, Part Fantasy — Dazzles", NYT Book Review, June 14, 2019
- "A Brilliantly Funny and Slightly Bonkers New Novel From Jasper Fforde", NYT Book Review, February 28, 2019
- "‘The Lost Time Accidents,’ by John Wray", NYT Book Review, February 21, 2016
- "‘Seveneves,’ by Neal Stephenson", NYT Book Review, May 31, 2015
- "Trace Decay", Season 1, Episode 8, HBO's Westworld (co-written with Lisa Joy) (original airdate: Nov. 20, 2016)
- "Dream Logic", Season 1, Episode 9, HBO's Here and Now (original airdate: April 8, 2018)
- "The Mysteries", Season 1, Episode 6, AMC's Lodge 49 (original airdate: September 10, 2018)
- "Chapter 23", Season 3, Episode 4, FX's Legion (co-written with Olivia Dufault) (original airdate: July 15, 2019)
- "Mr. Greer", Season 2, Episode 4, Facebook Watch's Sorry for Your Loss (original airdate: October 8, 2019)
- National Book Foundation
- Alter, Alexandra (November 19, 2020). "Charles Yu Wins National Book Award for 'Interior Chinatown'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
- Google Books, Pushcart Prize Anthology XXVIII (2004), page 554, https://books.google.com/books?newbks=0&id=d1RRErPahtoC&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=Charles+Yu
- Mid-American Review, Volume XXV, No. 2, listing "The 2004 Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award / First Prize: Charles Yu "Class Three Superhero"", https://casit.bgsu.edu/midamericanreview/volume-xxv-no-2/
- Author Page, Random House website.
- Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017 Guest Editor: Charles Yu | Series Editor: John Joseph Adams, http://www.johnjosephadams.com/best-american/projects/basff2017/
- "The John W. Campbell Memorial Award" Updated 11 July 2011. Retrieved 2012-04-25.
- Daniel Miller, Chris Columbus' Production Company Acquires Sci-Fi Novel (Exclusive), The Hollywood Reporter, December 2, 2011, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/how-live-safely-movie-chris-columbus-268890
- Charlie Jane Anders, Will Hollywood sentimentalize Charles Yu's How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe?, io9, December 2, 2011, http://io9.com/how-to-live-safely-in-a-science-fictional-universe/
- Carolyn Kellog, The Washington Post, Charles Yu's ‘Interior Chinatown’ brilliantly skewers Hollywood typecasting, https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/charles-yus-interior-chinatown-brilliantly-skewers-hollywood-typecasting/2020/01/27/4d04be48-3711-11ea-bf30-ad313e4ec754_story.html
- "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – Charles Yu – Tackling On-Screen Asian Representation With "Interior Chinatown" – Extended Interview". cc.com. Comedy Partners. January 27, 2020. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- Scott Simon, NPR Weekend Edition, January 25, 2020, 'Interior Chinatown' Puts That Guy In The Background Front And Center, https://www.npr.org/2020/01/25/799340952/interior-chinatown-puts-that-guy-in-the-background-front-and-center
- LARB AV, Literary LA: Satire, Metafiction, Anti-Racist Critique in Charles Yu's "Interior Chinatown", https://lareviewofbooks.org/av/satire-metafiction-anti-racist-critique-charles-yus-interior-chinatown
- "2020 National Book Awards Finalists Announced". National Book Foundation. October 6, 2020. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
- 2021 Winners, Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, http://www.ala.org/rusa/awards/carnegie-medals/2021-winners
- Charles Yu, Random House, https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/216162/interior-chinatown-by-charles-yu/
- WGA West, 2017 Writers Guild Awards Television, New Media, News, Radio, & Promotional Writing Nominations Announced, https://www.wga.org/news-events/news/press/2016/2017-wga-awards-tv-new-media-noms-announced
- (issue no. 112, "Conversation from the Shadow Lands. An Interview with Charles Yu")
- Entire Collection of all "Influenced By" Believer posts, https://www.newtonvillebooks.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/BELIEVER.pdf
- Jaime Clarke, Believer Magazine, D, Influenced by (where Yu discusses DeDillo and White Noise), https://believermag.com/logger/2015-01-22-influenced-by-17/
- Jaime Clarke, Believer Magazine, L, Influenced by (where Yu discusses Jonathan Lethem), https://jameson-zimmer.squarespace.com/post/2015/02/03/influenced-by-9
- Jaime Clarke, Believer Magazine, R, Influenced by (where Yu discusses Philip Roth and states "I've read more books by Roth than probably any other contemporary writer"), https://jameson-zimmer.squarespace.com/post?offset=1423520640000
- Charles Yu, The New York Times Book Reviews, Fiction, Neal Stephenson's New Novel — Part Tech, Part Fantasy — Dazzles, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/14/books/review/fall-or-dodge-in-hell-neal-stephenson.html
- Charles Yu, The New York Times Book Reviews, Fiction, ‘Seveneves,’ by Neal Stephenson, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/books/review/seveneves-by-neal-stephenson.html
- Charles Yu, The New York Times Book Reviews, Fiction, Short Stories From Joe Hill, Spiked With Mayhem and Evil, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/01/books/review/full-throttle-joe-hill.html
- Charles Yu, The New York Times Book Reviews, Fiction, A Brilliantly Funny and Slightly Bonkers New Novel From Jasper Fforde, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/books/review/early-riser-jasper-fforde.html
- Charles Yu, The New York Times Book Reviews, Fiction, ‘The Lost Time Accidents,’ by John Wray, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/books/review/the-lost-time-accidents-by-john-wray.html
- Mitchell, Shawn Andrew (May 6, 2013). "Fashionable Nonsense and a Better Brain: Part One of an Interview with Charles Yu". Fiction Writers Review. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
- Birnbaum, Robert. "Charles Yu". The Morning News. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
- "Ten Questions for Charles Yu". Poets & Writers. January 28, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- Staff writer, Taipei Times, Kelvin Yu wins an Emmy for work on animated TV series, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2017/09/20/2003678801, stating "[Kelvin] Yu’s brother, Charles Yu (游朝凱), is an acclaimed writer and one of the story editors for the HBO science fiction thriller Westworld."
- "Book Marks reviews of Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu". Book Marks. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
- Barnes & Noble, "The 2004 Robert Olen Butler Prize Stories", https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-2004-robert-olen-butler-prize-stories-e-r-catalano/1015973695, stating "Including stories by:...Charles Yu"
- Harvard Review, Charles Yu, https://www.harvardreview.org/contributor/charles-yu/
- Abby Macgregor, 10 Questions for Charles Yu, http://massreview.org/node/7345