“Fierce and refreshing.”— Carlos Lozada, Washington Post
Named a notable book of the year by the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post, and one of the best books of the year by Spectator and Publishers Weekly, The Souls of Yellow Folk is the powerful debut from one of the most acclaimed essayists of his generation. Wesley Yang writes about race and sex without the polite lies that bore us all.
This incisive and provocative series of essays collects a decade's worth of Yang's writings on politics and cultural paradigms, investigating issues of race, masculinity, and the differences between Eastern and Western cultural values. The collection opens with a taut exploration of the motivations and meanings of Virginia Tech shooter Seng-Hui Cho, whom Yang views through a contentiously sympathetic lens as a desperate social outcast emasculated and ignored partly because of his Korean heritage. This is followed by "Paper Tigers," originally published in New York magazine, which profiles Asian-Americans in the public eye and considers the difficulties Asians face in the corporate world as a result of being stereotyped as "a mass of stifled, repressed, abused, conformist quasi-robots." Elsewhere, Yang profiles Eddie Huang, restaurateur and author of Fresh Off the Boat (the memoir on which the ABC sitcom, which he now vociferously denounces, was based), and traces the devolution of the "seduction community" (aka pickup artists) from a relatively innocuous group of men sharing dating tips to reality television humiliation fodder. The collection closes with two essays casting a gimlet eye on the increasingly radical definitions of racism and sexism by progressives. Yang provides piercing, prickly insight into the challenges Asian-Americans face from racial and cultural bias, with literary style.