Charles Yu

Three works to astound your mind -- and break your heart.



In his debut short story collection, Third Class Superhero, Charles Yu exploited and defied sci-fi genre conventions to create a gleaming ode to the uncanny. Now he's back with a new book, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, that stars a time-traveling protagonist named Charles Yu. Needless to say, nimble meta-fiction maneuvers are on display. When we asked him to pick three favorites, Yu chose a trio of titles as multifarious as his own writing.


Books by Charles Yu



Tales from Outer Suburbia

By Shaun Tan


"Reading this book, I got that feeling of half-terror, half-exhilaration, that shock of recognition that I was reading something that would stay with me forever. There are fifteen of these Tales, and I am not ashamed to say I cried probably six times while reading this. (Not ashamed, but maybe a little embarrassed.) That is a remarkable stories-to-crying ratio. I've read good books that manage to twist the ordinary into something strange, but Shaun Tan does something much harder: he takes ordinary life and looks at it with such care and delicacy that we see how fundamentally strange it is."



The Gone Away World

By Nick Harkaway


"The sheer density of the ideas is matched only by the inexhaustible invention of Harkaway's language. His prose is rich and chewy and from it, he constructs one of the most vivid fictional worlds I have ever had the pleasure of entering. 'Intoxicating' seems to be a word commonly found in blurbs and book reviews, so I will say instead that this book is inebriating. This book will get you good and drunk, and you will have an incredible time, and instead of a hangover, it will reward your brain with about 15 extra IQ points."



White Noise

By Don DeLillo


"Even now, more than 25 years after its publication, DeLillo's novel is disturbingly accurate about so much: how technology has caused us to become permeated with messages from the media and advertising, and how difficult it is to be an individual thinking human in an ocean of waves and radiation. For me, no other book captures the feeling of contemporary alienation as well as this one. DeLillo is a master chemist, and in White Noise he distills the invisible atmospherics of our age: dread and anxiety."

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."