Tag Archives: Helen Wan

The Partner Track, by Helen Wan


The Partner Track

By Helen Wan

St. Martin’s Press, 2013

294 pages

Ingrid Yung has done her time at Parsons Valentine & Hunt LLP, a corporate law firm. She has worked up the ranks and as a Chinese American woman is poised to become the first minority female partner. She works in the mergers-and-acquisitions division and has just been given an important case. As long as it goes well, partnership should be hers. The novel unfolds over the course of a few months during which Ingrid balances work on the acquisition, a relationship with a colleague and a request that she join the firm’s Diversity Initiative.

Despite her successes, Ingrid struggles to be seen and to be treated as an equal by the white male lawyers who are oblivious to how much race and gender influence their perspectives on the world. Wan deftly sets the context of the firm, including banter in the staff dining room (aka the Jury Box), the politics of the annual summer picnic, and the day-to-day drudgery of the work, then she homes in on the places and situations where Ingrid is overlooked or misperceived. I felt very close to Ingrid, who is a funny, insightful and self-deprecating narrator. This book is well-paced and written in clear and insightful prose. I much enjoyed the story and Wan vividly brings to life the experiences of a minority female lawyer in a corporate law firm.

Wan is a lawyer and has worked at corporate firms in New York and as Associate General Counsel at Time Inc. I discovered this book when I heard her read at the Lit at Lark series. She was profiled in The Washington Post earlier this year.






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Lit at Lark – Building a Literary Community

Last night I attended a reading series, “Lit at Lark,” where I discovered four debut novelists who read from their works and talked about their writing process. It was an intimate event,  held in a side room at the Lark Café, with standing room only by the time we arrived. After the reading, and a brief Q and A, the authors mingled with the crowd.

Henriette Lazaridis Power read from, The Clover House, which tells the story of a Greek American woman who travels to Greece in the early naughts to claim an inheritance and in the process learns about a family secret her mother has kept from her.

Carley Moore read from a work-in-progress, but her young adult book, The Stalker Chronicles, came out in 2012 and tells the story of a high school girl working to overcome a her label as a stalker.

Helen Wan read from The Partner Track, a novel about an Asian American female lawyer, Ingrid, who is on track to be the first minority female partner in a large Wall Street law firm. I found her excerpts to be funny and moving as Ingrid negotiates the culture of her firm.

And Rachel Cantor read from A Highly Unlikely Scenario, which came out last week and has already been reviewed in the Times. It’s a speculative novel, set in the near future, with a main character, Leonard, who works as a “listener” at a pizza company.

It was fun to discover these writers, and this reading series, which brings authors to the Kensington/Ditmas area of Brooklyn. And in honor of MLK Day, I want to give a shout out to the series’ curator, Amy Shearn, for the community she is building with this series. Thank you, Amy.







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