Book Review: ‘Yellowface’ by R. F. Kuang

Worth the hype!


Book Title: Yellowface
Author: R. F. Kuang
Publisher: The Borough Press
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0008657758
Date Published: May 31, 2023
Price: INR 399

Yellowface by R. F. Kuang Book Cover

Book Review

June Hayward, an aspiring author overshadowed by her cross-genre literary star friend Athena Liu, seizes an opportunity when Athena tragically dies. June steals Athena’s completed novel, highlighting Chinese laborers’ contributions during World War I, and passes it off as her own. As she rises to fame under a new identity, Juniper Song, June finds herself haunted by Athena’s legacy and faced with mounting evidence that threatens to expose her deception. Racing to protect her stolen success, June must confront the lengths she is willing to go to maintain what she believes she deserves.

Yellowface” by Kuang is not an ordinary book; it is a scream that refuses to be forgotten. This captivating novel delves into the darkest corners of the publishing industry, taking readers on a haunting journey through a writer’s life. As the readers embark on this literary adventure, it is better to be unprepared for the storm that Kuang unleashes with her pen, leaving the readers speechless and eager for more.

Kuang’s fiery and bold writing reveals the hidden layers behind the scenes of publication houses and the ruthless world of social media that permeates every aspect of our lives today. With exceptional brilliance, she uncovers the imbalance between thoughtful creativity and the overwhelming influence of today’s hyperactive media. Through the eyes of a corrupt writer, the novel provides striking insights into the industry’s reality, forcing readers to pause and reflect.

The protagonist, a corrupted author driven to commit plagiarism to pursue her dreams, evokes a complex mix of emotions. The narrative showcases her self-righteousness, delusions, and awareness of her sins, making her a character readers will empathize with. Her helplessness becomes palpable as she faces criticism and bullying, creating a deeper connection between readers and the troubled author.

Kuang fearlessly exposes the duplicity of authors, their creative processes, and the deceptive nature of their public image. The narrative mercilessly dissects and places the publishing industry under the microscope, uncovering hidden truths that demand attention. One cannot help but be drawn into this wild book, compelled to contemplate its revelations.

Yellowface” defies easy categorization, for it is neither a novel, a thriller, a comedy, or a horror story. It is an amalgamation of all these elements, constantly haunted by a ghostly presence and the dark sarcasm of the deceased writer Athena. The resulting narrative is akin to a jumbled thought captured on paper, defying expectations. While it falls short of achieving its intended dark comedy status, it remains an intriguing and intentionally plotted work.

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Though the twist in the ending can be anticipated, perhaps revealing the events to be a mere dream of the protagonist June, “Yellowface” did not follow this path. Nevertheless, readers might enjoy this scrambled novel precisely because of its well-crafted intentional plot. Kuang’s ability to engage readers with her writing style is commendable.

Finally, author Kuang demonstrates her ability as a writer in this diversified and intriguing novel by offering a completely different topic from her earlier work, “Babel.” This unexpected deviation adds to the novel’s appeal and indicates the author’s ability to experiment with other narrative strands. While not without flaws, “Yellowface” is a memorable and thought-provoking novel that commands attention and leaves an indelible impression.

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