Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
Yellowface is R.F. Kuang’s venture into literary fiction after cementing her place in fantasy over the last few years, she continues to keep the industry and her readers on their toes.
Yellowface follows mediocre author, June Heyward’s, success in the publishing industry after she steals a manuscript off her dead best friend. Athena Liu is publishing’s current darling, she’s young, talented, attractive, and humble. June Heyward thinks she deserves everything Athena has. So, when Athena dies in a freak accident in front of June, she feels it’s only right she takes Athena’s unfinished manuscript and publishes it under the dubious moniker of Juniper Song.
June is flung into instant stardom and the subsequent ramifications of plagiarism as readers are forced to endure the increasingly unhinged thoughts and justifications of a clearly deranged protagonist. This is where I believe Kuang shines – choosing to write from the perspective of the villain and making her nuanced enough to keep readers engaged is thoroughly impressive.
Yellowface is a satirical critique of the publishing industry and its complacency when it comes to racism. Kuang’s writing is self-aware, meta, and clearly inspired by her own experiences, thus, making any criticisms of the story feel redundant since they’ve already been discussed in the book itself. Yellowface is a wild and often absurd ride, it’s fast paced and reading this book was like peaking through your fingers to look at a car crash – impossible to look away from the wreckage.