Today I’m excited to tell you about The Partner Track by Helen Wan, a contemporary fiction debut hitting shelves this week. The Partner Track features an Asian-American protagonist who is up for a partnership at her law firm. The book looks at the role race, gender and class plays in the corporate workplace. I haven’t had the chance to read this one just yet, but the story sounds really meaty and suspenseful.
Check out an excerpt from chapter one below for a taste of The Partner Track. Excerpt courtesy of Macmillan:
The Parsons Valentine dining room—affectionately known as the Jury Box—resembled nothing so much as a high school cafeteria, writ large. We were all older, sure, with expensive haircuts and finely tailored suits. The food was a lot better, and it was served on fine china, classic white with a platinum border. And then there was the view. Instead of a track or a football field, our windows overlooked the grand expanse of Fifth Avenue and Central Park. No trophy cases or spirit banners, either, just a vast Ellsworth Kelly painting and a few signed Chuck Close prints adorning the otherwise stark white walls. But these were just trophies of a different sort.
At Parsons Valentine & Hunt LLP, every step you took was a carefully calibrated decision, right down to where you sat at lunch—especially the year you were up for partner. The powers-that-be took meticulous note of who was allied with whom. If you regularly sat at a table to gossip and gab with other associates, it telegraphed lazy and unambitious. If you sat only with partners, it screamed brownnoser. Sitting off by yourself, not surprisingly, was the worst kind of professional suicide—you might as well walk around wearing a big SOCIAL LIABILITY sign around your neck. And the worst thing you could be at Parsons Valentine was unpresentable.
Read the rest of chapter one here!
About The Partner Track:
In this riveting debut, a young attorney must choose between the prestige of partnership and the American Dream that she—and her immigrant parents—have come so close to achieving.
In the eyes of her corporate law firm, Ingrid Yung is a “two-fer.” As a Chinese-American woman about to be ushered into the elite rank of partner, she’s the face of Parsons Valentine & Hunt LLP’s recruiting brochures–their treasured “Golden Girl.” But behind the firm’s welcoming façade lies the scotch-sipping, cigar-smoking old-boy network that shuts out lawyers like Ingrid. To compensate, Ingrid gamely plays in the softball league, schmoozes in the corporate cafeteria, and puts in the billable hours—until a horrifically offensive performance at the law firm’s annual summer outing throws the carefully constructed image way out of equilibrium.
Scrambling to do damage control, Parsons Valentine announces a new “Diversity Initiative” and commands a reluctant Ingrid to spearhead the effort, taking her priority away from the enormous deal that was to be the final step in securing partnership. For the first time, Ingrid finds herself at odds with her colleagues—including her handsome, golden-boy boyfriend—in a clash of class, race, and sexual politics.
About the Author:
HELEN WAN is Associate General Counsel at the Time Inc. division of Time Warner Inc. Before that, she practiced corporate and media law at law firms in New York. Born in California and raised near Washington, D.C., Wan is a graduate of Amherst College and the University of Virginia School of Law. Her essays and reviews of fiction have been published in “The Washington Post” and elsewhere. She lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, with her husband and son.
Congrats to Debbi who won a copy of The Partner Track!
- 5 Rules Every New Associate Must Know (But No One Will Tell You) (thecareerist.typepad.com)
- The book she didn’t see on the shelf (cnn.com)