From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In Yamashita's latest, she strings together a stunningly complete vision of San Francisco's Asian American community in the late 1960s and early '70s, using the titular inn as a meeting point for ten loosely-connected novellas, each covering a single year. Focusing on the struggle for equality and peace as it involved this particular community, Yamashita's work also incorporates a broad view of the Asian and Asian American experiences, from Japanese internment camps to the Marcos dictatorship. 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; and public figures like Lenin and Malcolm X (Yamashita's opening line: "So I'm Water Cronkite, dig?"). Despite its experimental and fictionalized nature, the novel reads more like a patchwork oral history, determined to relate the facts of its setting and, more importantly, the feelings of it; with varied commingling of voices and formats (stream-of-consciousness, slangy first person, quotes, dossiers, academic papers, even written-out choreography), the narrative reads like a collection of primary sources. Though it isn't for everyone, this powerful, deeply felt, and impeccably researched fiction is irresistibly evocative and overwhelming in every sense. 30 b&w photos and illus.
*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. --Donna Seaman