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Wesley Yang Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Face of Seung-Hui Cho (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Wesley Yang
Wesley Yang is a non-fiction author born in st. Louis, Mo, and bred in New Jersey. Yang came into the limelight in 2008 when he wrote about Seung-Hui Cho, the mass murderer. Since then, the talented author has written essays and articles that have featured in New York Magazine, Harper’s, and the New York Times Book Review. His debut novel, The Souls of Yellow Folk, is basically a collection of his best essays. Born of Korean-American parents who came seeking refuge in the US during the Korean War, the author clearly understands how it feels to be Asian in the West, and he has written a few good essays on the same. Currently, Yang lives in Montreal.

The Souls of Yellow Folk
The Souls of Yellow Folk is a collection of essays on American society. The author starts by tackling the issue of race through the Seung-Hui Cho face essay. Yang takes on the face of the man who killed 32 people in Virginia Tech. Cho’s face and yellow Asian skin were deemed unlovable even to those he considered friends. What if he had been different? Could his life be any different if he had a face that would be desirable to women? How about, by some miracle, someone had seen through his loneliness and talked him out of his twisted plans? Is it possible that Cho would have acted differently had someone acknowledged his stories?

While Cho’s story is sure to elicit different reactions, Yang is careful not to blame the victim. He points out that even before the mass murders, Cho was a creep. He stalked numerous women and sent them lewd messages that would have earned him enough trips to jail. Through Cho’s case, the author explains our current hierarchical society. The white male tops this hierarchy and will get more replies on a dating site in one night than any other race. For Asian men with their slit eyes and sallow faces, getting just one reply would be close to a miracle. Through the constant rejection, these men feel they are way lower in the hierarchy and are more likely to be angry at all women and society at large.

Things get heavy in these essays, and you may find yourself needing to take a break in between essays. Some are difficult to digest, but there is a lot of truth in all of them. For an Asian man living in the West, this book has a lot he can identify with. There will be the undeniable thrill of recognition on these pages. The essays also look at other races so anyone will find something they can identify with. From the tension teenagers experience when they pour their hearts to their crushes to the often-idiotic vulnerabilities we experience at some point in our lives, there is a lot for other readers.
The Souls of Yellow Folk is an engaging read that examines haunted and embattled men society has judged without mercy. Some of the most impressive essays include Paper Tigers, The American Dream, and The Face of Seung- Hui Cho. Yang writes with such candor, which is a welcome break from the ordinary. These essays are a blend of reporting, personal history, and reporting. This book is written with young men in mind. Men of Asian origin will find the content particularly relatable. It feels like the author has made it comfortable for such men to ask uncomfortable questions instead of always playing safe.

The Face of Seung-Hui Cho
The Face of Seung-Hui Cho is an essay on one of the deadliest shootings in American history. In 2007, Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 others in Virginia Polytechnic Institute. A few others sustained injuries as they jumped over windows to get away from the murderer who attacked unexpectedly using semi-automatic pistols. Once he realized that the police were coming for him, Cho committed suicide, cutting his life short at the young age of 23. Cho’s action disgusted many in the US and beyond. In this essay, Yang expresses his displeasure not just as an American but one of Asian origin. To Yang, Cho looked just like him, and his feelings were intensified by the fact that the murderer’s face was just like his own.

Yang’s writing will also stir a lot of questions in you. Is it possible that he started just like the rest of us before depression too over him? It is no secret that Cho was diagnosed with depressive disorder in middle school. He was started on treatment and given special support all the way to junior high. In his last years in Virginia Tech, Cho had submitted writings with a lot of violence on several instances. While some of his teachers and friends were concerned, no one really took the quiet Asian boy as a threat. Could the situation have been different had someone noticed that the upcoming writer was sinking into depression again?

This essay is remarkable. The author expertly tackles such a sensitive topic without offending those affected by the shooting. While it is clear that he doesn’t support Cho, the author will make you think about this man, the kind of circumstances he found himself in, and some of the things that could have driven him over the edge. It was clear that Cho was a security risk to others, especially the girls he sent disturbing messages to on different occasions. The girls reported to the campus security, and it is sad that no serious action was taken against him.

The Face of Seung-Hui Cho is a beautifully written essay on the plight of people often considered losers in society. It is hard for anyone who has never faced rejection to understand what loneliness such people go through. Yang is honest in his writing, which is perhaps the reason why this essay is so captivating. For people who have struggled to fit in a society that seems hellbent to view them a certain way, this book is a perfect read. It is also ideal for the Asian male who feels he has no safe outlet to air his opinions.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Wesley Yang

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