The Souls of Yellow Folk by Wesley Yang

The Souls of Yellow Folk

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 cel...

Details The Souls of Yellow Folk

TitleThe Souls of Yellow Folk
Release DateNov 13th, 2018
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
GenreWriting, Essays, Nonfiction, Race, Politics

Reviews The Souls of Yellow Folk

  • Faith
    While I liked some of these essays, including the last one What is White Supremacy, my main problem with this collection is that my expectations were disappointed. That is primarily the fault of the totally misleading title of the book. I wanted some analysis of race from the point of view of Asian Americans. Instead I got a bunch of rambling essays, most of which were not about Asian Americans at all. Its also a very male-oriented book. For exam...
  • Esther Espeland
    Okay! Book has a great title, but it is very misleading! Went into this expecting/hoping for a book of essays explicitly about Asian-American experiences. There are a couple essays on race (the first one which I had read already, about the Virginia tech shooter who was a Korean-American, is great). Rather, a selection of essays spanning Yangs career most of which are profiles of people/cultural events from ten years ago. Its 2018 baby! Im not try...
  • Lee
    4.5 largely exemplary essays and portraits with a few puff pieces that are at very least perfectly formed and entertaining.
  • Oliver Kim
    If, this year, I were given free license by society to ascend to the top of my over-priced, under-maintained Berkeley apartment, unlock the service door, climb to the rooftop, and shout from the rafters a single book recommendation to the confused onlookers below, Wesley Yangs The Souls of Yellow Folk would be my unequivocal pick.Its deeply necessary, provocative, electric, and all those other book-reviewer adjectives that seem at once flat and h...
  • Mehrsa
    You can't have it both ways, Yang. You can't decry identity politics and also write a book about the oppression of Asian men. You can't summon the great W.E.B. Dubois and not actually deal with the soul of yellow folk. This is just a collection of essays written by Yang about a large variety of topics. I loved his exploration of asian men and their unique struggles. I agree with him and I was willing to go with him on that journey, but then he st...
  • Teddy Kupfer
    Was able to get an advance copy thru work, but everything in here has been previously published, so I figure it's OK to write this. Man, what a good writer. First essay, "The Face of Seung-Hui Cho," is an intensely personal piece about what it is like to be an Asian American man in today's U.S.: to be someone who "knows what it's like to have a cultural code superimposed atop your face," a code that "abashes, nullifies, and unmans you." When he p...
  • Jennifer
    It's not necessarily the quality of the writing that's an issue but the packaging and also the message of what's being said. Initially, I was very intrigued by what a book with this title (a riff off W.E.B DuBois' SOULS OF BLACK FOLK) may interrogate in race for Asian/Pacific Islanders, sadly it falls way below expectation. Essentially the title is WAY off base for this text and it would be better served to not try and cash in on Black awareness ...
  • Will
    Fine. Fine. Fine.I should caveat all of this with my general dislike of essay collections, and boy does this one suffer in particular from being of the particular genre known best as Internet Writing. Some of these are extremely de rigeur topics that just haven't aged well in terms of seeming important to take up space in a slim 200-page book; some part of my brain once knew or cared about the "Tiger Mom" debate, but this was like ninety billion ...
  • Dawn
    I've never heard these facts articulated. Racism against Asians is so downplayed.
  • John Pistelli
    It was once a pop-socio-psychological commonplace of American foreign-policy commentary that terrorism on behalf of political Islam was motivated less by ideology and more by an intractable reality of gender: young men with no prospects in their societies will inevitably become violently anti-social. Maybe people still say that about what used to be called "the Arab street," but the consensus in the west today is that males (and other longstandin...
  • Samarth Gupta
    A very though provoking collection of essays that touch on race, masculinity, gender, dating, social media, etc. Quotes that make me think:By this I mean something that has in recent years escaped from the obscurity in which it was once shrouded, even as it was always the most salient of all facts, the one most readily on display, the thing that was unspeakable precisely because it need never be spoken: that as the bearer of an Asian face in Amer...
  • David M
    Yang mines some profoundly icky, uncomfortable territory in this little bookSometimes I'll glimpse my reflection in a window and feel astonished by what I see. Jet-black hair. Slanted eyes. A pancake-flat surface of yellow-and-green-toned skin. An expression that is nearly reptilian in its passivity... Most the reviews from liberal publications seem to have been negative. On the one hand, I get where they're coming from. Is Yang 's complexion hon...
  • Truce
    This is a collection of Wesley Yang's previously published work, which wouldn't have been a bad thing, but the content really underdelivered on the promise of the title and introduction. I had expected essays on race and specifically on the Asian American experience, or even something vaguely reminiscent of DuBois and I got none of that.Part I did profile some Asian American figures, including Seung-Hui Cho, Amy Chua, and Eddie Huang. Parts II an...
  • Kim
    ARC.I think Yang is going to make a fantastic True Crime writer some day. His passion is clear and True Crime fans will find several essays here of interest.I was not a fan of this book. I'm not a True Crime fan, and I couldn't shake the sense that Yang's worldview considers women relatively irrelevant and holds them in high reproach when they don't love him for that. I suspect men will prefer this book more than women and enbies, but only time a...
  • Heather Chi
    Im sorry (not sorry). This is NOT the Asian answer to The Souls Of Black Folk: these are a set of polished essays from 2009 onwards that center on mostly antiquated and some thoroughly wrong-headed racial and social politics. At least two pieces are openly sympathetic to PUAs for eg. so: ZZZ. I’m sorry (not sorry). This is NOT the Asian answer to The Souls Of Black Folk: these are a set of polished essays from 2009 onwards that center on most...
  • Leigh Anne
    Not what you think it's going to be, but not bad.If you picked up this book expecting in-depth assessments of what it's like to be Asian American today, you're going to be disappointed. If you can get past that and read all the essays, however, you'll come away with some gems.Emphasis on "some." When Yang is good, he's really, really good. "Eddie Huang Against the World" and "The Life and Afterlife of Aaron Swartz" are very good. "Game Theory" is...
  • Elk
    I guess this book tries. The title promises a rare collection of essays talking about the Asian American condition that made it into the mainstream of NYTimes's notable books of 2018, but it disappoints. It only spends about a third of the book on topics related to this before turning into an incoherent mess of hastily cobbled together published writing. Not to say that an Asian American author should only write on the topic, but 1. the title pro...
  • Emily
    It seemed as though Yang (or his publisher) picked out a cool title for a book of essays, then realized that he didn't have enough of them about the Asian-American experience to fill it, and, thus, rounded it out with random (on Aaron Schwartz, Tony Judt)--not to mention outdated (The Game and the pickup artists? Sex Diaries? Really?)--other essays Yang wrote at some point in the past 5-10 years that may or may not use the word "Asian" in them. T...
  • Katy
    Given the title, I was expecting this book to be about an Asian-American experience, but the majority of the book is a collection of Yang's essays on disparate topics that have nothing to do with Asian-American identity. 'The Souls of Yellow Folk' is such a misleading title, if not wholly appropriative for aligning Asian-American issues with black issues.
  • Bruin Mccon
    Where I do think I deserve merit points is for sheer strength of will. The natural thing to do is to say fuck itto lie down with a whiskey and watch old movies. It takes willpower to say, Ill be happier if I do this than if I just lie there, bored. (-Tony Judt)Wesley Yangs Souls of Yellow Folk, a collection of essays, is the work of a talented writer. The essays are all published writing from the past decade that ask a questionwhat does it mean t...
  • Michael
    Book of unconnected essays that doesn't really cohere into anything, but the sentence-level writing is so good I didn't really care. A couple of the essays are duds. My favorite essays involved Yang dissecting Asian-American identity, masculinity, and sexuality. I think he will write a memoir one day and it will be very good. Quotables:Asian-Americans as "a nominal minority whose claim to be a 'person of color' deserving of the special regard res...
  • Katherine
    Many people have already pointed out my main issues with the book: that it has no structural through-line, and is disturbingly patriarchal. Some of the pieces, like the profile of Francis Fukuyama, barely made an impression on me. They were too short and not that surprising why even include them in a hard-copy collection? The last couple of essays, written in 2017 about political correctness, could have been written by any number of what-is-the-...
  • James
    I loved these essays. Every sentence contained such feverish clarity, such animated poise, and the ideas emerging from the elegance beautifully subverted the prevailing rhetoric. Where a lesser writer would've used the dogma of our current online political polarities to accrete popularity (this is Yang's first book), Yang chose instead to honor authenticity over pandering. This book excited me immensely. It's the best book I've read this year.
  • Ryan Mishap
    If the title is a reference to DuBois, it better not include articles written about hackers and political authors from New York Magazine and what not. While the essays dealing with what the title would lead you to believe this was going to be grappling with were good, I was disappointed by the collection.
  • Noren
    Interesting read, however, expected more on the experiences of the Asian-American perspective. Particularly worth reading are the essays, Paper Tiger, Eddie Huang Against the World and What is White Supremacy.
  • Dan Burt
    4.5 stars
  • Jayesh
    An interesting collection of essays largely about the Asian-American male experience. Nothing in the collection beats the first essay though.
  • Juliet
    A collection of essays ranging from race, masculinity and some pop culture. Very interesting and relevant, we need more diverse voices like him.
  • C
    I expected essays on Asian-Americans. There are some but not a majority. Those on Asian-Americans are excellent. I regret that their perspective is under-represented in the mainstream.