ABOUT NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN
Meet Sirius Lee, a famous Chinese American comedian. He is a no good, very bad Asian. He is not good at math and has no interest in finding a “good Chinese girlfriend.” And he refuses to put any effort into becoming the CEO/lawyer/doctor his parents so desperately want him to be. All he wants to do is make people laugh. A cross between Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and Jade Chang’s The Wangs Vs. The World, No Good Very Bad Asian follows Sirius’s life from his poor upbringing in the immigrant enclaves of Los Angeles to the loftiest heights of stardom as he struggles with substance abuse and the prejudice he faces despite his fame. Ultimately, when he becomes a father himself, he must come to terms with who he is, where he came from, and the legacy he’ll leave behind.
Written by author and MacDowell Colony fellow Leland Cheuk, who did standup comedy for several years in New York City, No Good Very Bad Asian is a hilarious and affecting exploration of identity in America.
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY
“A first-person ride through Lee’s ups and downs…Cheuk balances a tenderness toward his character with biting comic turns as the novel confronts ideas about familial obligation.” —Buzzfeed
“In Sirius’ raw reflections, partly enabled by his role as the comedic truth teller, the book serves as a bold satirical mirror of the deepest, ugliest, but partially true feelings and thoughts of Asian Americans.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“…a vivid and engrossing portrait of a lovable, modern-day schmuck—a character who feels immediately iconic, like Holden Caulfield…funny as hell.” –Electric Literature
“…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.” —The Rumpus
“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…As a writer, Leland Cheuk has a varied palette of talents. Most striking is his novel comic sense and timing, abilities that routinely produce surprisingly humorous results.” —The Brooklyn Rail
“[No Good Very Bad Asian] is funny but also sad, and runs at a kind of breakneck speed through different stages of comedy and a disillusioned man’s life. The incidents of subtle and not-so-subtle racism (such as everyone thinking he’s a different Asian comic) are swept away by the breezy tone, yet we can feel the hurt linger, in an experience many can relate to.” –The Millions
“…zippy, acerbic…Cheuk, who performed stand-up for several years as research for his book, provides an inside look at the topsy-turvy world of comedy, where rising stars mix it up with floundering has-beens. Above all, the novel is a cautionary tale of how even a brush with fame can derail one’s perspective, and how racial insensitivity and discrimination persist even in the glitzy depths of Hollywood…A showbiz crack-up tale with a heart, No Good Very Bad Asian is smartly told and deeply felt.” —Foreword Reviews
“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.” —Hyphen Magazine
“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.” —Largehearted Boy
“Leland Cheuk’s fiction grapples with questions of identity even as it utilizes satire devastatingly. (Alternately, if you like Paul Beatty’s work, you’ll probably enjoy Cheuk’s fiction as well.) His latest novel, the memorably-titled No Good Very Bad Asian, taps into the world of stand-up comedy, along with themes of generational conflict and parenthood.” —Vol. 1 Brooklyn
“Leland Cheuk’s latest novel, No Good Very Bad Asian, balances humor with political urgency. The novel follows the life of comedian Sirius Lee as he comes of age in New York City among some of the city’s most talented standup comedians. Cheuk’s novel is often laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s also incredibly poignant in how it presents its protagonist and his family dealing with issues of race, home, and class. No Good Very Bad Asian is a comedy novel for our times.” —Chicago Review of Books
“A touching, funny tale of a Chinese American underachiever’s unlikely journey into standup comedy while also navigating the duties and obligations of society and his traditional family. The comic yet poignant acts that make up the life of Sirius Lee will both entertain and haunt you.”
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, author of Sarong Party Girls
“An epistolary novel with a devastating sense of humor that will break your heart and captures that space between a rock and hard place of being Asian American in search of unconditional love. Self-centered outcast, precocious megastar Sirius Lee (Hor Luk Lee) shares his life lessons with his daughter, making himself known to her with courage and candor in an appeal that will make you nod with recognition and laugh in that way that only the sharpest comedians can make you laugh, with tears in your eyes.”
Jimin Han, author of A Small Revolution
“Leland Cheuk’s wacky and wondrous novel follows Sirius Lee, the ultimate anti-hero, an Asian American comedian who overcomes all odds to become a star. With brio and humor, Sirius fights prejudice, substance abuse, and his own worst instincts, always striving for a world bigger than his own. By the last page, he was so real to me that I longed to turn on the TV and watch the legendary comedy special that gives the novel its name.”
Kirstin Chen, author of Bury What We Cannot Take
“Leland Cheuk’s No Good Very Bad Asian tears the tarp from the Asian American experience and exposes its deepest desires and fears. It articulates perfectly the amusements that make the entire room uncomfortable. Cringing never felt so good.”
Ed Lin, author of 99 Ways to Die
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