Wednesday 27 December 2023

#Review Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

I absolutely understand why this was such a bestseller!

About the Author

Rebecca F. Kuang is the #1 New York Times and #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Poppy War trilogy, Babel: An Arcane History, Yellowface, and Katabasis (forthcoming). Her work has won the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, and British Book Awards. She has been named to the 2023 Time100 Next list and the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2024.

A Marshall Scholar, she has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford. She is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale, where she studies Sinophone literature and Asian American literature. Follow @kuangrf on X

About the book

Athena Liu is a literary darling and June Hayward is literally nobody.

White lies - When Athena dies in a freak accident, June steals her unpublished manuscript and publishes it as her own under the ambiguous name Juniper Song.

Dark humour - But as evidence threatens June’s stolen success, she will discover exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.

Deadly consequences…What happens next is entirely everyone else’s fault.


Part of me wonders whether the editors really knew what they were reading when this hit their desks. It is such an accurate reflection of white privilege in the publishing industry and more of a tongue lashing than a tongue-in-cheek drop in the pan.

The author takes scathing shots at a variety of elements of publishing, fame, being a writer, and perhaps most astute is her take on who is allowed to write what about whom, when and in what capacity. I am so glad one of the examples mentioned is American Dirt, which is a perfect example of the storm in Yellowface.

Then there are the questions that pop up in relation to June stealing Athena's work or idea then adapting it with her own style and voice. Is that not the core of fan fiction, which is in essence taking the ideas of others and creating an adaptation using the material of other authors. Then the controversy of white authors writing about minorities, about issues their privilege doesn't allow them to view objectively. This thought process is carried forward by the author by referencing the similar inter-culture restraints and prejudices Athena was guilty of.

It's an incredibly clever piece of writing and story. I enjoyed the fact the end is exactly as brassy and bold faced as one would expect, because it reflects the publishing industry so well. It's a fantastic read.

Buy Yellowface at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎The Borough Press, pub date 25 May 2023.Buy at Amazon com.

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