Date of Award

Spring 5-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Rei Magosaki

Second Advisor

Joanna Levin

Third Advisor

Ian Barnard


This thesis focuses on Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown: A Novel (2020), exploring the function of Chinatown in Los Angeles within the novel as a space of creation, that of “Asia” for Hollywood and home for Taiwanese immigrants. I argue that Interior Chinatown offers a unique look at the perception or notion of Chinatown, paying attention to the way Hollywood has shaped it and used it to create a sense of China and “Asia” in the cultural imagination. Through satire and the blurring of the reel and the real, Yu is able to criticize the inner workings of Hollywood’s relationship with the neighborhood and its residents. The novel directs the readers’ gaze to the realities of Chinatown: how Hollywood exploits it for profit while perpetuating the community’s poverty, how the exoticization of Chinatown and its residents impacts the community, and how tourism money leads Chinatown to lean into the cultural dynamic. At the same time, the experimental novel’s focus on Taiwanese identity shows readers the multiplicity of Chinatown as a space of culture creation and preservation. Reading Interior Chinatown through the lens of Taiwan’s semiperipheral status–- as a nation on the brink of urbanization and as a nation whose statehood is uncertain–- ultimately deepens the readers’ understanding of the importance of home building in the United States as well as the thread of nostalgia through which the novel finds cohesion.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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