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Book Review - 'Yellowface' by R.F. Kuang

I have read many and varied reviews on this book. I loved it. What a cracker.

This is a thought-provoking satire that dives into themes of jealousy, ego, plagiarism, racism, social media, trolling, and the reality of the publishing industry. It brings all these together within the framework of a good thriller.

Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were both supposed to have great success. They had been friends, albeit competitive friends since their college days at Yale.

The problem is Athena got her big break and has become the darling of the publishing world, while June’s writing career has become stagnant. June is consumed by jealousy over Athena’s wild literary success.

When Athena dies in a freak accident, June stumbles across an unfinished manuscript Athena was working on centering around the role of Chinese laborers during WWI.

June being a Causation woman, decides to steal it, finish the book, and pass it off as her own under the name of Juniper Song?

As the story goes on June’s lie spirals out of control after the book becomes an international best seller. She gets viciously trolled on social media and is accused of plagiarism. She then becomes desperate to keep her secret exactly that. A secret. She finds herself buried in a hole that may be too deep to dig her way out of. Even her publisher doesn’t know the truth.

June endures a Twitter storm, awkward author events, and online activists all determined to bring her down. What lengths June goes to to keep her secret will shock you. Both characters are not very likable but that doesn’t take away from the book.

This book is definitely controversial. In the authors acknowledgements, it states 'Yellowface is, in large part, a horror story about loneliness in a fiercely competitive industry.'

One thing I liked about this book was the question of who (if anyone) can tell what types of stories. Is a story yours to tell?

There has been an awful lot of hype around this book, and I thought it certainly lived up to it.

I’ll let you decide what you think, but I give it 5 stars.

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