REVIEW: Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang

by |June 8, 2023

Here’s the book I can’t shut up about, YELLOWFACE

In this book, a lacklustre author steals her successful “best friend’s” novel the night she watches her die. This gets published and said lacklustre author becomes a literary sensation. The trouble is that she’s not who she says she is and this bestselling novel is not her story to tell. Yellowface is hands-down hilarious and will drive you absolutely wild wanting to know just how its chaos will play out. The narrator is one of the most despicable people you’ll ever read – it’s very, very addictive.

Yellowface speaks to timely debates over diversity in publishing and the literary establishment’s shady business in exoticising and tokenising of non-white authors and profiteering on cultural theft. The (real-life) author, Rebecca Kuang holds a mirror up to the commercial hype machine that is constantly manufacturing THE NEXT BIG BOOK by the HOT SMART YOUNG AUTHOR while simultaneously existing in that space herself with this soon-to-be international bestseller. She even joined the union picket line against her own publisher earlier this year. The whole publication story of this book is fascinating and it makes the book itself even more meta and juicy.

I also think Yellowface works incredibly well as a kind of manic psychological thrill ride even if you know nothing about Rebecca Kaung or publishing industry controversies. I so enjoyed the narrator’s journey towards ruin – she, with the permission and support of her fictional publisher, proudly defends her sins to the Twitterverse to the degree that she eventually becomes madly deluded of her own… if not innocence then something like righteousness. If you’ve read the Russian classic Crime and Punishment, you’ll be familiar with the reading experience. It’s exhilarating stuff.

I’m obsessed. You must, must read this book!

Hear us chat more about Yellowface on our podcast!

Tell Me What To Read – Australia's Ultimate Guide to Books (May 15, Edition) Tell Me What To Read

In this episode of Tell Me What to Read host Ben Hunter sits down with fellow book experts Steph and Krystal to chat about our May Book of the Month, Safe Haven by Shankari Chandran! Books Mentioned: Safe Haven When The Moon Hatched The North Wind Five Broken Blades Flawless Diary of a Void Tom Lake Red River Road Tell Me What To Read, powered by Booktopia. Follow @booktopiabooks on Instagram, TikTok, Threads and YouTube. Follow @booktopia on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.See for privacy information.
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Yellowfaceby Rebecca Kuang


Our June Book of the Month

by Rebecca Kuang

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.

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About the Contributor

Ben is Booktopia's dedicated fiction and children's book specialist. He spends his days painstakingly piecing together beautiful catalogue pages and gift guides for the website. At any opportunity, he loves to write warmly of the books that inspire him. If you want to talk books, find him tweeting at @itsbenhunter


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