Yellowface by Rebecca Kuang
THE BOOK THAT WILL MAKE YOU HIDE UNDER THE COVERS
We’d heard about this one long before we got stuck in and let us tell you, we categorically know why. It’s out today and it’s going to make waves.
Part thriller, part social commentary, part satirical fictional memoir, this one had C crippled with a combo of anxiety, stress and embarrassment. S, meanwhile, wanted to grab the shoulders of leading lady June and shake some sense into her.
June is a struggling writer. Her friend, Athena, is a literary superstar. She’s made it big. Super big. Her debut has smashed through the charts right to the top and all June can do is seethe from the sidelines. That is, until she happens to witness Athena’s tragic and premature death.
Amongst Athena’s things, June finds a manuscript — a novel about the unsung heroism of Chinese labourers during the war. She does the unthinkable — takes it, finishes it and passes it off as her own, using her middle name ‘Song’ as her last name to sound more … diverse. Yes. Really.
Kuang is a propulsive and brilliant writer and this story is horrifying and addictive at the same time — like watching a car crash in slow motion. You won’t believe some of the things June does — some of which are, at times, implausible — at least we hope so.
C wants to do a doctorate on the themes and issues of this one; race, diversity, quotas, cancel culture and the workings of the publishing industry whilst exploring an absolutely key question; who has the right to tell what stories. It was an education, too, despite the fact that we both found June abhorrent on many levels, which was, no doubt, Kuang’s intention.
We’d love to know what you think too. Have you read this one? Let us know how you found it in the comments below ~ S & C