'Paper Tigers' Author Wesley Yang Inks Book Deal With HarperCollins

Wesley Yang, the author of a controversial article about Asian Americans, will get a chance to expand on his ideas after HarperCollins imprint Ecco Press bought the rights to his debut book, according to the New York Observer.

Yang’s piece, “Paper Tigers: What happens to all the Asian American overachievers when the test taking ends?,” was published by New York magazine last May and elicited an emotional response from the Asian American community, with some calling the 11-page article an embarrassment while others lauded it for its boldness.

“Wes’ original NY Mag piece is the kind of feature that makes book editors drool– so lively, so full of sparks and ideas, and so well-written it cries out to be turned into a book, however far from the original piece the book may range. ” [Ecco] editor Matt Weiland wrote to The Observer.

Five houses bid on the book during a three-day auction, according to Mr. Yang’s agent, Edward Orloff of McCormick & Williams.

Yang told the New York Observer the book will be more than just an expansion of the article.

“I think of it as a book that will be only incidentally about Asians, using a very specific experience as a lens to explore universal truths about the American character — about the nature of success and failure, about schooling and meritocracy, and about how people invent new identities for themselves in the face of the constraining narratives imposed on them from without and within,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Terms of the deal were not discussed. Yang, who is Korean American, is a contributing editor for New York magazine and also contributes to literary magazine n+1.