Author Lillian Li got her start writing Harry Potter fan fiction, and name checks Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential as the inspiration behind her debut novel, Number One Chinese Restaurant. She also drew on her own experience working as a waitress for the book: “The customer is always right, which means you partially forfeit the ability to advocate for yourself or your humanity, day in and day out. When you have a Chinese face in a Chinese restaurant, there is kind of a double alienation at work,” says Lillian.
Named a must-read by O, The Oprah Magazine, Time, The Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed and The New York Times Book Review, Number One Chinese Restaurant is published in the UK this month. We visited Lillian at her Ann Arbor home to talk about the importance of libraries, what working at a bookshop is really like, and her unusual route into writing.
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