Dazzling and ambitious, this multivoiced fusion of prose, playwriting, graphic art, and philosophy spins an epic tale of America’s struggle for civil rights as it played out in San Francisco near the end of the 1960s. As Karen Tei Yamashita’s motley cast of students, laborers, artists, revolutionaries, and provocateurs make their way through the history of the day, they become caught in a riptide of politics and passion, clashing ideologies, and personal turmoil.The tenth anniversary edition of this National Book Award finalist brings the joys and struggles of the I Hotel to a whole new generation of readers, historians, and activists.
|Publisher:||Coffee House Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.48(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.57(d)|
About the Author
Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of Letters to Memory, Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, Brazil-Maru, Tropic of Orange, Circle K Cycles, National Book Award finalist I Hotel, and Anime Wong. She has been a U.S. Artists Ford Foundation Fellow and co-holder of the University of California Presidential Chair for Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. She is Professor Emeritus of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
What People are Saying About This
“As original as it is political, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking, I Hotel is the result of a decade of research and writing that included more than 150 personal interviews. . . . [and] will be dog-eared and underlined and assigned to college reading lists for generations. . . . In the end, the way I Hotel accounts for the Asian American movement is both sweet and sour. And for all the losses Yamashita records, there are, we know, great achievements as well. High among them is this beautiful book.” Washington Post Book World
“Brilliant. . . . [Yamashita’s] ambition is achieved with efficiency, showmanship and wit. . . . A surgically deft depiction of the political entwined with the personal. . . . Yamashita’s book recalls what art is for: ‘To resist death and dementia . . . To kiss . . . you good-bye, leaving the indelible spit of our DNA on still moist lips. Sweet. Sour. Salty. Bitter.’ In other words, I Hotel’s complex taste lingers and haunts, like something alive.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“As in her previous works, Yamashita incorporates satire and the surreal in prose that is playful yet knowing, fierce yet mournful, in a wildly multicultural landscape. . . . [A] passionate, bighearted novel.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Yamashita captures the fiery righteousnessand self-righteousnessof the civil-rights movement. . . . The complexity of the era that led to the birth of Asian America. It’s a glorious tone poem, a rich reminder of the multicultural, multifaceted past from which our city grows.” San Francisco Magazine
“It’s a stylistically wild ride, but it’s smart, funny and entrancing.” Michael Schaub, National Public Radio
“The breadth of I Hotel’s embrace is encyclopedic and its effect is kaleidoscopic. It wants to inform and dazzle us on the confusions and conclusions on the question of culture and assimilation.” Chicago Tribune
“[A] multiform swirl of a novel about a decade in the life of San Francisco’s Chinatown and, by extension, the Asian experience in America. . . . With delightful plays of voice and structure, this is literary fiction at an adventurous, experimental high point.” Kirkus Reviews
“Exuberant, irreverent, passionately researched . . . Yamashita’s colossal novel of the dawn of Asian American culture is the literary equivalent of an intricate and vibrant street mural depicting a clamorous and righteous era of protest and creativity.” Booklist,
“Magnificent. . . . Intriguing.” Library Journal
“Stunningly complete. . . . Yamashita accomplishes a dynamic feat of mimesis by throwing together achingly personal stories of lovers, old men, and orphaned children; able synopses of historical events and social upheaval . . . This powerful, deeply felt, and impeccably researched fiction is irresistibly evocative.” Publishers Weekly
“[Yamashita’s] novel is breathtaking in its scope and its energy and innovation make it a good fit with the exciting and transformative time period that it covers. . . . I Hotel demonstrates how complicated and finally irreducible history is-the many voices and perspectives it comprises, the divergent and winding paths it takes, the way it confounds conventional narrative. Yamashita celebrates this complexity, and she’s such a deft storyteller that you’ll end up celebrating it with her.”Women’s Review of Books
“I Hotel is an amazing literary accomplishment and one of the most pleasurable reading experiences I have ever had. I believe it stands on the same plane of accomplishment as Roberto Bolaño’s Savage Detectives and Edward P. Jones’s The Known Worldan amazing literary accomplishment and a brave and bold act of publishing.” Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Booksellers
“Huge, messy, and frantically fun, I Hotel offers a very believable panorama of life at this time. . . . The portraits of these early generation Asian Americans . . . are quite moving and conveyed without sentimentality. It’s an impressive accomplishment from an author who continues to push the boundaries of innovative fiction.” Rain Taxi
“One of the the things that is so amazing about Karen Tei Yamashita’s most recent novel, I Hotel, is that she not only retrieves the sad beauty of a particularly fraught period of a particularly squalid community Asian Americans in San Francisco during the 1960s-70s but that she does so in a way that is also exhilarating, celebratory. . . . Which is why we need novels like I Hotel: to patiently help the world remember itself.”American Book Review
“I Hotel is an explosive site, a profound metaphor and jazzy, epic novel rolled into one. Karen Tei Yamashita chronicles the colliding arts and social movements in the Bay Area of the wayward ’70s with fierce intelligence, humor and empathy.” Jessica Hagedorn
“I Hotel, in a genre all its own somewhere between historical fiction and creative nonfiction, is an inventive attempt to re-present such an era in a way that is simultaneously heuristic and available to the imaginations of the young.”Boom
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The International Hotel (I-Hotel) was built a year after the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake in Manilatown, a community of some 20,000 Filipino immigrants on the edge of Chinatown. It was a residential hotel, which mainly housed Filipino and Chinese immigrant bachelors who worked in nearby businesses but couldn't afford homes, along with a smattering of artists and community and political activists that moved there in the 1960s. The I-Hotel sat in the shadow of the Financial District's famed Transamerica Pyramid, and as the area became more populated with gleaming office buildings the land adjacent to the hotel became more desirable while the building seemed more and more out of place. The hotel was purchased by a wealthy Chinese investor in 1968, who planned to tear down the building, evict its residents, and build a more profitable high-rise tower.The residents of the hotel and community activists fought the developer and the city for years to prevent its demise. However, in 1977 the city's police department physically overpowered dozens of protesters and forcibly evicted its remaining residents, who were mostly elderly men who had lived there for decades, and the building was torn down immediately afterward. Ironically, the planned commercial development never took place, and a reincarnation of the I-Hotel for low- and middle-income residents was built on this site in 2005.Karen Tei Yamashita, a professor of Literature and Creative Writing at UC Santa Cruz, uses the I-Hotel as the basis for this ambitious, sprawling, unique and successful novel about the Asian American civil rights movement, or Yellow Power movement, in San Francisco, Berkeley and other Bay Area cities in the 1960s and 1970s. The book is divided into 10 novellas, and each revolves around mostly fictional characters who are deeply involved in the burgeoning movement, including student protests at San Francisco State and UC Berkeley, the Native American takeover of Alcatraz Island, the efforts of farm workers to earn a decent wage and working conditions, and, of course, the unsuccessful efforts to save the I-Hotel. Yamashita uses a variety of tools to tell these stories, including poetry, portraits, graphic art, and government manuscripts.Most of these novellas were very well done, and the book's ending was superb. Throughout the book I felt as if I was an observer being pulled along, sometimes breathlessly, from one story and one locale to another, in a whirlwind series of historical and personal narratives by a persistent and passionate guide. At the book's end I was somewhat fatigued, a bit overwhelmed, but ultimately grateful for the journey and what I learned along the way.