No Good Very Bad Asian by Leland Cheuk follows an Asian American protagonist, Sirius Lee, struggling to pursue a career in comedy while balancing his racial identity. It illustrates Sirius’ journey from his immigrant upbringing to his stardom all the while trying to overcome racial barriers within this country.
To accurately convey this struggle that defies the model minority stereotype, Cheuk took it upon himself to embody Sirius’ character as his own, as part of his research for the book.
“I was trying on the skin of somebody like Sirius,” he told Datebook.
He revealed to the San Francisco Chroncle Datebook in an interview that he enrolled in comedy classes at the San Francisco Comedy College. He continued this hobby when he moved to New York City. While being on stage, he began to piece together the main conflict of this story.
No Good Very Bad Asian also highlights an untold narrative of being an Asian American male, said Cheuk. In the novel, Sirius ridicules his racial identity, which ultimately manifests into hatred towards this part of himself. Cheuk wanted to explore the challenge of Asians in America pursuing a career in an artist field in a painful yet realistic context.
“There are all these little gaps in our cultural experience that I feel like aren’t talked about enough. I hope (the book) covers them in sort of an empathetic way,” he added.
Despite the heavy themes depicted in the novel, Cheuk told the story through humor and comedy, according to Book & FIlm Globe reviews.
C&R Press published No Good Very Bad Asian on Sept. 14.
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