BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays by Wesley Yang [in Booklist]

His voice isn’t quite growling, but David Shih has perfected the notable ability to suggest deep, underlying anger without crossing into full-blown fury. That control makes him Wesley Yang’s ideal conduit in this debut collection of 13 essays that lay bare Yang’s exasperation, indignation, doubt, disgust, and, most important, his intelligence.

Channeling W. E. B. Dubois’ 1903 The Souls of Black Folk, Yang confronts “the peculiar burden of nonrecognition, of invisibility, that is a condition of being an Asian man in America.” His topics span UVA shooter Seung-Hui Cho (and Yang’s resentment over being tasked with the assignment because of the commonalities he shares with the shooter), the consequences of Asian American success, and Eddie Huang’s memoir-inspired Fresh Off the Boat TV show.

Other standout entries feature tech wunderkind Aaron Swartz, historian/intellectual Tony Judt, and pickup artist Mystery. He’s especially no-holds-barred when pushing race buttons, ending the collection with “Is It OK to Be White?” and “What Is White Supremacy?” With skillful empathy, Shih amplifies Yang’s insight and outrage.

Review: “Media,” Booklist, April 15, 2019

Readers: Adult

Published: 2018


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