Rebecca F. Kuang is a Marshall Scholar, translator, and award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Poppy War trilogy and Babel: An Arcane History, among others. 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 Literature at Yale. She is rarely here, except to leave occasional adoring reviews for books she really love.
Yellowface Book Description:
Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars: same year at Yale, same debut year in publishing. But Athena’s a cross-genre literary darling, and June didn’t even get a paperback release. Nobody wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.
So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts impulsively: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers to the British and French war efforts during World War I.
So what if June edits Athena’s novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song–complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn’t this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That’s what June claims, and the New York Times bestseller list seems to agree.
But June can’t get away from Athena’s shadow, and emerging evidence threatens to bring June’s (stolen) success down around her. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.
With its totally immersive first-person voice, Yellowface takes on questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation not only in the publishing industry but the persistent erasure of Asian-American voices and history by Western white society. R. F. Kuang’s novel is timely, razor-sharp, and eminently readable.
Yellowface Book Review:
Yellowface book that has caused quite a stir in the publishing industry, sheds light on the hypocrisy and tokenization of people of color in the entertainment industry. The book’s author, however, is a flawed white individual, which has led to controversy regarding the credibility of the book’s message.
The book showcases the struggles and frustrations of people of color in an industry that often treats them as tokens, using them to fill a diversity quota rather than valuing their skills and talents. However, the lens through which the author views these issues is flawed, as a white author cannot fully comprehend the lived experiences of people of color.
Despite this flaw, the book does offer a transparency that forces readers to acknowledge the gray areas that exist in the entertainment industry. It showcases the power dynamics at play and the impact of social media on the lives of those in the public eye.
It’s important to acknowledge the flaws in Yellowface and other similar works. We must recognize the importance of centering the voices of people of color in discussions surrounding racism and discrimination. However, the book’s message can still be valuable in highlighting the injustices that exist in the entertainment industry.
Yellowface may not be a perfect representation of the struggles of people of color in the entertainment industry, but it does raise important questions about the ways in which people of color are tokenized and exploited in the industry. We must continue to have these discussions and center the voices of those who are impacted by these issues in order to make real progress towards a more equitable and just society.