Willis Wu, our protagonist, is an Asian American actor who has been typecast in a variety of roles, from Delivery Guy to Oriental Guy Making a Weird Face. He longs to play Kung Fu Guy, which is the best role for an Asian actor in an American TV show like Black and White.
Wu lives in the SRO, a single-residence-occupancy hotel above the Golden Palace.
Willis Wu's dad, also known as Sifu, was once Kung Fu Guy. He has fallen on hard times in his old age, having slipped into poverty, solitude, and ill health. He lives in a small, dirty room in the SRO.
Willis Wu's older brother briefly played Kung Fu Guy. He has good hair, "A-plus kung fu" skills, and scored 1570 on the SAT.
The reason for Older Brother's firing from the role of Kung Fu Guy was mysterious at the time. It was said that it simply didn't work out.
Willis' mother. She was an aspiring actress in her youth, and now plays Old Asian Woman on Black and White.
Willis' wife and Phoebe's mother, and a skillful actress who first appears playing Undercover Cop. She is of partial Taiwanese descent.
Willis's friend in the SRO. Fatty Choy discovers Old Fong's body, and plays a range of bit parts similar to Willis's. They feature opposite each other in the gambling den scene, during which Willis is playing the role of Special Guest Star, and Fatty is playing a henchman.
Miles Turner is a detective who went to Yale. He is muscular, handsome, and a star of Black and White. Despite his stardom, Miles feels as though he's been boxed into the category of a stereotypical Black man. He initially comes into conflict with Willis, but the two end up respecting each other after the court scene, during which Willis makes a case for the reality of anti-Asian discrimination in America.
Sarah Green, like Miles Turner, is a star of Black and White. She plays the titular White woman character. She is conventionally attractive, smart, and cool under pressure. She advocates against the discrimination of women, non-conventionally-attractive people, and Black women during Willis's trial. She personally congratulates Older Brother on his excellent testimony before the verdict is read.
Willis's daughter, Phoebe, is able to move freely between Asian and American cultures. She does this during a children's TV show, in which she plays the star role of Mei Mei. Willis considers Phoebe to be the platonic ideal of an Americanized Asian person, in that she is able to comfortably and meaningfully exist within the confines of different cultures, while retaining the ability to exit and reenter these cultural settings at will.
Old Fong is a resident of the SRO's ninth floor who dies in the shower, causing Willis's apartment to flood. Ming-Chen sings a karaoke tribute to Old Fong after his death.
Young Fong is Old Fong's son. He portrays a crime boss in a scene of Black and White. Willis comments on Young Fong's slender, feminine appearance as being visual shorthand for villainy.
Interior Chinatown Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Interior Chinatown is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.