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*Starred Review* The International Hotel, or I Hotel, was an actual San Francisco landmark, the base for a wild array of pan-Asian artistic, political, and community endeavors. And now this fortress and beacon provides the impetus and structure for Yamashita's exuberant, irreverent, passionately researched, and many-voiced novel about the Yellow Power movement. Author of the indelible Tropic of Orange (1997), Yamashita nets the social and personal ferment of the years 1968 through 1977 in 10 interconnected, stylistically varied segments. As this jazzy, kaleidoscopic novel unfolds, we meet orphaned teenager Paul and his mentor Chen, a radical professor; Mo Akagi, a Yellow Panther; Gerald, an avant-garde saxophonist; Sandy Hu, an innovative choreographer; and all kinds of gutsy and inventive activists, some in wheelchairs, who comprise a broad spectrum of courageous Asian Americans asserting their rights. With a rich soundscape punctuated by James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin; Mao, Malcolm, and Martin; and a narrative pastiche of demonstrations, jam sessions, guerrilla theater, and kung fu; transcripts, puns, and letters--not to mention sex, pot, and risky adventures; comedy, tragedy, and triumph--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.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Comprising ten novellas that took ten years to craft, this is Yamashita's (Circle K Cycles) magnum opus. Year by year, the novellas mark a decade's worth of tumultuous Asian Pacific American (APA) history, from 1968, when ethnic studies was painfully birthed in San Francisco, to 1977, when San Francisco's I-Hotel-long a pivotal symbol of APA activism-fell to demolition crews. At first reading, this work is a sprawling narrative filled with multiple perspectives about California's Asian Americans. But dig just slightly deeper, and it proves to be a magnificent, gripping exercise in distinguishing the fake from the real: S.I. Hayakawa was indeed San Francisco State University's acting president in 1968, while Mo Akagi is a composite for activists Richard Aoki and Mo Nishida. Yamashita even directly (shockingly, hysterically!) addresses the legendary "fake vs. real" debate still agitating Asian American literary circles, with side-by-side cartoon drawings of opposing APA icons Maxine Hong Kingston and Frank Chin. VERDICT Even without any background in APA history, readers will find Yamashita's tome intriguing. Complementary texts that might intensify an already superb literary experience include Kingston's Woman Warrior, Chin and others' Aiiieeeee! and The Big Aiiieeeee!, Estella Habal's San Francisco's International Hotel, and David Henry Hwang's play script Yellow Face.-Terry Hong, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, Washington, DC last-minute Mystery (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.