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Yellowface Review: Why Yellowface Should be on Your Must-Read List?

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Yellowface Review: Why Yellowface Should be on Your Must-Read List?

The Yellowface is brilliant satire penned by R.F. Kuang, author of “Babel, or the Necessity of Violence,” readers are immersed in the captivating tale of June Hayward, a struggling novelist who seizes an opportunity to resurrect her stagnant career. The catalyst for her unexpected ascent is the untimely death of her college friend, Athena Liu, a Chinese American novelist, who accidentally chokes to death during a celebration of her latest literary success.

June, having harbored a complicated relationship with Athena and feeling the sting of her own stalled career, seizes an audacious chance. In the chaos following Athena’s demise, she pilfers a manuscript titled “The Last Front” from Athena’s desk. This historical novel highlights the contributions of Chinese laborers in WWI. June, a white author, secures a lucrative deal for the manuscript but not without controversy. She alters the narrative, removing offensive slurs and introducing a love story between a white woman and a Chinese soldier.

The novel’s release triggers a whirlwind of consequences, with objections from Candice Lee, a Korean American editorial assistant. As the book climbs the bestseller list, it draws vehement backlash from the AAPI community and scathing criticism from a prominent reviewer who deems it a “white redemption” narrative. Kuang astutely dissects the blind spots within the publishing industry, steering the plot toward a gripping face-off between June and what appears to be Athena’s “ghost.”

The narrative crescendos with June grappling not only with accusations of plagiarism from @AthenaLiusGhost online but also with eerie sightings of Athena at readings and around town. Kuang’s storytelling prowess invites readers into a thrilling exploration of the consequences of literary appropriation and the haunting specters of creative ethics. This is a must-read book that resonates with sharp social commentary and riveting intrigue.

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