“A showbiz crack-up tale with a heart…”
“Sirius Lee isn’t your stereotypical bookish Asian American dude. An outspoken and confrontational comedian, he has popular stand-up albums and appearances in Hollywood blockbusters on his résumé. But underneath the jokes, his wreck of a life is no laughing matter. Leland Cheuk’s zippy, acerbic novel No Good Very Bad Asian is framed as a letter to Lee’s estranged daughter; it focuses on his successes and disasters.”
Read the rest of the review at Foreword Reviews.
“If you publish with a small press, you’re not going to sell tens of thousands of copies. But with just the accumulation of being in the game and publishing work, good things will happen over time.”
“Leland Cheuk has a reputation for being funny. Damn funny. So it’s no surprise perhaps that his new darkly comedic novel, No Good Very Bad Asian, takes an immersive leap into the life of a stand-up comic during the early 2000s. A Brooklyn literary darling and the founder of indie press 7.13 Books, Cheuk juggles writing with championing the voices of writers who might have otherwise been overlooked by the literary spotlight. With several books out in the past few years, including The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong and Letters from Dinosaurs, it can be hard to pin him down.
I first met Leland at a reading at LOST LIT in Brooklyn, where he advised the audience to be “good literary citizens.” By this he meant: Don’t just self-promote but also help other writers out, buy local authors’ books, read, write book reviews, and support one another. These words of wisdom helped me embrace and become a larger player in my local literary community, and they continue to remind me that when we support the creation of literature, everyone wins.
I recently spoke with Cheuk about his experiences performing as a stand-up comic, Asian stereotypes and brutal parenting styles, and how the #MeToo movement has impacted the comedy world.
The Rumpus: I was really interested in the stand-up comedy aspect of the book, and knew that you had once briefly done stand-up. Then I read your Lit Hub essay and wanted to know: Did you only get involved in doing stand-up as research for your book? Did you ever entertain any ideas of trying to be a comic?”
Read the rest at The Rumpus.
“While I began hobnobbing with reality TV stars, my mom started hobnobbing with the Chinese horoscope. She became a devoted fan of the popular Chinese radio show Master Ming’s Suan Ming Hour after meeting Master Ming in person at the Chinese New Year Festival in nearby Monterey Park. Master Ming had billboard ads all over San Gabriel Valley and was a local celebrity who was especially popular with the ladies because he was a handsome man in his early forties who claimed to have learned his craft from several generations of acclaimed fortune-tellers in China. He also wore a round hat and a mandarin robe like he was still in the 1800s.
After reading Master Ming’s fortune-telling books, the pages of which were printed on the thinnest of gray pulp, my mom relayed what she claimed were the zodiac’s predictions for each family member. At best, the future would be tragic and, at worst, apocalyptic. My dad was born on a year of the Dragon, and according to my mom’s horoscope readings, because September 2001 was a bad month for Dragons (as were January through August and October through December), she told my dad to brace himself for a car accident. Nothing ever happened, of course. Because fortune-telling is Chinese for bullshit.”
Read the rest of the excerpt at The Offing.
“Leland Cheuk’s novel No Good Very Bad Asian is moving, unsettling, and one of the funniest books I have read in a long time.
The Brooklyn Rail wrote of the book:
“The balance between comic and serious is crucial in literary comedy. Stray too far in either direction and you fail, becoming simplistic on one hand, boring on the other. While a perfect balance is admittedly impossible, never mind a matter of taste, Leland Cheuk does an admirable job in his latest, No Good Very Bad Asian, achieving a true synthesis of heart and humor highlighted by the fluidity of his first-person voice and a steady diet of sharp turns of prose.”
Check out the playlist at Largehearted Boy.
“Leland Cheuk’s new novel, NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN, introduces readers to an unforgettable protagonist — a Chinese American man who aspires to be a stand-up comedian, struggling to balance his desire for a different kind of life with his familial responsibilities. Cheuk’s use of humor will make readers laugh, flinch and occasionally even cringe at hard and uncomfortable truths, while also thinking deeply about the weight of family obligations and inheritance.
In fourth grade, I noticed that I only found white girls attractive. I used to watch every last rerun of My Two Dads because I wanted to marry a girl like Nicole. Something was wrong with me. My class was almost two-thirds Chinese by then, and I didn’t think about any of the Chinese girls in the same way I thought about the white ones.”
Read the rest of the excerpt at Hyphen Magazine.