Yellowface: A Reese's Book Club Pick (Hardcover)
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang shares a little bit about what it is like in the publishing business and how far someone might go to get the recognition and fame they feel that they deserve.
Characters June Hayward and Athena Liu are both authors that have known each other since college. June is the author of a book that never got released in paperback nor had enough sales for another reprint and has no idea what her next project will be. Athena is the author of multiple published books and was working on another before her untimely death.
Athena had everything that June wanted. When an accident happens and June has the opportunity to take a shortcut on her work, June doesn’t hesitate. June takes Athena’s work and passes it off as her own. At first it seems to be smooth sailing. But once people begin to question the legitimacy of her work, June becomes defensive and needs immediate reassurance from her publishing team that everything is going to be fine, that they believe her.
Time after time, June is caught in a good moment to give in and tell the truth, but she is too stubborn. Instead, she insists that the story was her idea, even when it hurts the people around her. Once she has that popularity of a bestseller, she doesn’t want to let it go. It seems that she can never get enough of the publicity, until of course it goes downhill.
Just when June thinks that she can keep it under control, her self-conscious and worried thoughts make her become unsettled. Does this unnerving feeling bring her guard down enough to get her caught? Just how far will she go to get what she wants?
Yellowface is a book that I wouldn’t usually pick up, though I’m glad that I did. The story intrigued me and once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down. I became infuriated with June about how she didn’t seem to care about the story that Athena was trying to tell.
How can a person be this ungrateful when she got more in return than she worked for? Kuang did a great job writing a character that the audience is supposed to dislike. Kuang’s words are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. The ending blew my mind. Although, by that point it was hardly surprising just how far June would go to protect her own image.— Cheyanne Stice
June 2023 Indie Next List
“Equal parts modern satire, indictment of the publishing industry, and twisted ghost story, R. F. Kuang’s first foray into literary fiction pulls no punches and will have you reading late into the night.”
— Abby Bennsky, Old Town Books, Alexandria, VA
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK
“Hard to put down, harder to forget.” — Stephen King, #1 New York Times bestselling author
White lies. Dark humor. Deadly consequences… Bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn’t write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American—in this chilling and hilariously cutting novel from R.F. Kuang, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Babel.
Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars. But Athena’s a literary darling. June Hayward is literally nobody. Who wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.
So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers 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 grapples with questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation, as well as the terrifying alienation of social media. R.F. Kuang’s novel is timely, razor-sharp, and eminently readable.
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, and Yellowface. Her work has won the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, and British Book Awards. 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 diaspora, contemporary Sinophone literature, and Asian American literature.
“This is a great read. Crime, satire, horror, paranoia, questions of cultural appropriation. Plenty of nasty social media pile-ons, too. But, basically, just a great story. Hard to put down, harder to forget.” — Stephen King
“Viciously satisfying…addictive.” — New York Times Book Review
"Well-executed, gripping, fast-paced novel." — NPR
"Reading Yellowface felt like being inside a wild, brutal, psychological knife fight with a deranged clown. A merciless satire that left me screaming inside... from both its horror and humor." — Constance Wu, star of Crazy Rich Asians and author of Making a Scene
"At once a brilliant satire that mixes horror and humor; a nuanced exploration of race, heritage, identity, and diversity in publishing; and an honest look at the hell that is social media, this might just be Kuang's best." — Boston Globe
"Yellowface is one of the most transfixing novels I’ve read in ages… Kuang boldly interrogates literary hot-button issues like privilege, appropriation, and authenticity, leaving it open for readers themselves to decide where to draw the line." — Zakiya Dalila Harris, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Black Girl
"It's addictive, shocking, compelling, ridiculous, and extremely fun to read by turns." — Paste Magazine
“Yellowface is a brittle, eviscerating read that affected me bodily. Kuang’s oeuvre consistently finds new ways to expose and interrogate systems of power, in this case tackling the commodification and consumption of art with both swagger and sophistication. Yellowface really is THAT bitch.” — Olivie Blake, New York Times Bestselling author of The Atlas Six
"A spiky, snarky, shady, smart, sinister take on white privilege." — Nikki May, author of Wahala
"Yellowface is brilliant satire--thought provoking, thrilling, and hitting a little too close to home. A must read commentary on the line between representation and exploitation and those who are willing to cross it for fame. Everyone in publishing's wide orbit should read this, and take a long look in the mirror." — Vaishnavi Patel, New York Times Bestselling Author of Kaikeyi
"Yellowface is a spicy, satirical page-turner that skewers the racism and tokenization in the publishing and entertainment industries, the vanity of social media, and the lengths at which people will go to remain in the glaring spotlight." — Tracey Lien, author of All That's Left Unsaid
"They say you should write the book that only you can write. Well, no one else but R.F. Kuang could have written Yellowface. A brilliant and unflinching take on white performativity and publishing. I'm not exaggerating when I say that Kuang is one of the most important voices in publishing today." — Jesse Q. Sutanto, author of Dial A for Aunties
"A darkly satirical thriller about greed, truth, identity, and art—and who a story really belongs to. Reading Yellowface was like riding a roller coaster with no safety belt. I screamed the whole way through!" — Peng Shepherd, author of The Cartographers
"Excellent satire from Kuang...This is not to be missed." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This unsettling and electrifying book piercingly addresses issues of cultural appropriation and racial identity.” — Library Journal
"There’s SO MUCH I recognised (with the odd full-body cringe) about the vagaries of publishing and the ego bin fire of being a writer and SO MUCH I learned about my own white privilege but above all it’s a funny, engrossing read about what people do when they reckon they can get away with it." — Erin Kelly, author of The Skeleton Key
"Her magnificent novel uses satire to shine a light on systemic racial discrimination and the truth that often hides behind the twisted narratives constructed by those in power." — Booklist (starred review)