David Walliams: ‘Harmful’ Chinese character to be removed from book after criticism

‘Brian Wong, Who Was Never, Ever Wrong’ had been condemned for its depiction of a Chinese schoolchild

Louis Chilton
Monday 04 October 2021 14:36
David Walliams writing new TV series with Matt Lucas

A story containing “harmful stereotypes” about Chinese people has been removed from a children’s book by David Walliams.

The author and Little Britain star had originally included the story, entitled “Brian Wong, Who Was Never, Ever Wrong”, in his 2016 book The World’s Worst Children.

Podcaster Georgie Ma condemned the story, which centres on a studious young Chinese boy named Brian Wong, in an Instagram post earlier this year.

Speaking to The Bookseller, Ma said that the story “normalised jokes on minorities from a young age”, and identified a number of “negative stereotypes” the story perpetuated.

These include the way the character was drawn (”He wears glasses, he looks like a nerd, he’s got small eyes”), jokes about his name, and his stereotyped character traits.

“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,” said Ma.

It has now been announced that a new edition of the book will be released by HarperCollins next year, with the controversial story excised completely.

In a statement, HarperCollins said: “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.”

“Brian Wong” is not the first story by Walliams to face scrutiny over its content.

Last year, the author was criticised by author and food activist Jack Monroe, who described Walliams’s stories as “sneering classist fatshaming nonsense”.

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