Brian Wong, Who Was Never, Ever Wrong, is about a Chinese boy who was the "swottiest swot who ever swotted" and was good at maths and wore thick glasses - and has been criticised for perpetuating racist stereotypes.
David Walliams has found himself in hot water for a short story he penned after it had been criticised for its racial stereotyping. The funny man’s new book, The World’s Worst Children is due to be reprinted next year, with the short story omitted.
The story in question, Brian Wong, Who Was Never, Ever Wrong, is about a Chinese boy who was the “swottiest swot who ever swotted”, was good at maths and wore glasses.
Earlier this year, the story came in for some heavy criticism from podcaster, Georgie Ma, who believes it is “complete casual racism and it just reminds me of the comics that white supremacists have telling Chinese people to go back to China.”
The podcaster revealed how she had met with publisher, Harper Collins to talk about her experiences of growing up British-born Chinese, saying: “Stories like Brian Wong have a role to play on normalising jokes on minorities from a young age and we want this to be removed.”
The story’s removal from reprint has since been confirmed by Harper Collins, saying, “In consultation with our author and illustrator, we can confirm that a new story will be written to replace 'Brian Wong' in future editions of The World's Worst Children. The update will be scheduled at the next reprint as part of an ongoing commitment to regularly reviewing content.”
When speaking to the bookseller, Ma explained how ‘Wong’ and ‘wrong’ are two words “commonly used in playgrounds to pick on someone if their surname is Wong. Even just the way Brian has been illustrated. He wears glasses, he looks like a nerd, he's got small eyes… they're all harmful stereotypes”.
Ma believes that the overall character “plays on the model minority myth where Chinese people are nerdy, swotty and good at maths, we're not confrontational and we're high achievers”.
“It was just really disappointing to read about that. Personally, for me, because I have a toddler, I don't want her being absorbed in these stories where Chinese culture is misrepresented.”
Released in 2016, the book features stories such as Nigel Nit-Boy, Grubby Gertrude and Bertha the Blubberer – selling 450,000 copies. Walliams has since published two sequels to the book, and various spin-offs.