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“For the title of his debut collection of essays on race, gender, and American society, Wesley Yang invokes W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1903 classic study of race in America. These 13 essays explore the ways in which the American dream shapes and distorts an assortment of people: chefs, strivers, pickup artists, and school shooters. Included here is ‘Paper Tigers,’ Yang’s personal, National Magazine Award–winning look at Asian-American overachievers. As Yang’s avid followers already know, his laser scrutiny spares no one—not even Yang himself.” —The Millions
The National Magazine Award–winning writer’s debut collection of incisive, stylish essays on race and gender.
One of the most acclaimed essayists of his generation, Wesley Yang writes about race and sex without the jargon, formulas, and polite lies that bore us all. His powerful debut, The Souls of Yellow Folk, does more than collect a decade’s worth of cult-reputation essays—it corrals new American herds of pickup artists, school shooters, mandarin zombies, and immigrant strivers, and exposes them to scrutiny, empathy, and polemical force.
In his celebrated and prescient essay “The Face of Seung-Hui Cho,” Yang explores the deranged logic of the Virginia Tech shooter. In his National Magazine Award–winning “Paper Tigers,” he explores the intersection of Asian values and the American dream, and the inner torment of the child exposed to “tiger mother” parenting. And in his close reading of New York Magazine’s popular Sex Diaries, he was among the first critics to take seriously today’s Internet-mediated dating lives.
Yang catches these ugly trends early because he has felt at various times implicated in them, and he does not exempt himself from his radical honesty. His essays retain the thrill of discovery, the wary eye of the first explorer, and the rueful admission of the first exposed.
About the Author
Wesley Yang has written for the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, the New York Times Book Review, New York Magazine, Esquire, Tablet, and n+1. His work has appeared in Best American Essays, Best American Magazine Writing, Best Creative Nonfiction, and Best American Nonrequired Reading. He lives in Montreal.
The cry for individual identity can be no louder than in [this] piercing collection…[F]ierce and refreshing. — Carlos Lozada
With gonzo candor and intellectual capaciousness, Yang’s Du Bois–inflected essays probe the identity crises of Asian American men and their ‘peculiar burden of nonrecognition.’
As Yang’s avid followers already know, his laser scrutiny spares no one—not even Yang himself.
Incisive and provocative…Yang provides piercing, prickly insight into the challenges Asian-Americans face from racial and cultural bias, with literary style.
Yang writes with elegance and a fearless interest in the uncommon and unsayable.
[A] perceptive, personal view of the lives of Asian-Americans.
Nobody writes sentences (or profiles) like Wesley Yang. He is our Balzac. — Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
This is a spectacular essay collection, as eloquent and stylishly written as it is morally essential. With lucidity and unsentimental humanity, Wesley Yang shows us a new type of forgotten man, one whose suffering is primarily psychological. We often think of the brutality of private life as the natural province of fiction or memoir, but Yang combines the novel’s power to dissect personal psychology with the breadth, directness and raw honesty of the essay. A stunning achievement, this book deserves to be read and re-read for years to come. — Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
Wesley Yang’s unsparing vision always affects me powerfully. — Mark Greif, author of Against Everything
A terrifically honest writer, Wesley Yang articulates feelings others are too afraid to call up, let alone confront. This collection is essential because it adheres to no ideology; Yang panders to no one. Instead, with sharp, and even Naipaulian, prose, he takes us deep into the discomfort zones of racial and political discourse. — Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs
Wesley Yang’s pen is sharp, his imagination adventurous and his empathy devastating. His words snap a messy world into focus. — Molly Young, author of D C-T!