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  • Writer's pictureHavana Chin

Yellow Face was very thought-provoking...

So I just finished Yellow Face by R.F Kuang and it was unlike any book I have ever read before. After finishing it I started questioning certain things and thinking about topics I had never considered before.


What is this book about?

The premise of this book was very interesting, the story begins with the main character June Hayward. June is an unknown literary author who has published an unremarkable, unsuccessful debut novel that has gained no recognition, awards, or acknowledgment by society whatsoever. On the other hand her old classmate from Yale and long time acquaintance, Athena Liu, has reached the peak of literary fame: she has published multiple works, gained multiple accolades and awards for her work, and she is viewed as the literary darling by the reading and publishing community alike. However in a freak accident Athena Liu dies, but on the night of her death June steals a manuscript from Athena's office, a manuscript that no body has seen or read. June decides to edit the manuscript a little, change her name to Juniper Song, and pass off Athena's work as her own. As June starts to experience fame and success from the stolen book she has to navigate her way around the publishing and reading community by manipulation and lies in order to keep everything she thinks she deserves.


June Hayward - June is a very selfish person throughout the entire book. She only ever cares about whether she will be viewed in a good light, whether she will get enough recognition or success, or whether she will reach the level of fame she thinks she is owed. However, reading from her perspective was a very different experience because, although she was entirely self-absorbed, it offered a view into the mind of a racist, selfish, and cultural appropriating person. Her outlook on the asian culture and on the publishing industry was very interesting to say the least and while I personally did not agree with her perspective I could see the different flaws in the topics June dealt with that the author pointed out through her. The one thing that I liked about how June was portrayed was how realistic it was, every single time she made a risky decision or said an inappropriate comment she always tried to persuade herself that what she had done or said was not that bad or not that big a deal which is such a human thing to do!

Athena Liu - Athena was a very mysterious character because for most of the book she was not present. Athena was portrayed through flashbacks to the past and what I took away was that she had a fake personality and her actions did not match her words. Before Athena died she was viewed by June as being a successful literary writer who was adored by everyone and could do no wrong, however after her death June remembered all the bad feelings and experiences she had with Athena; which is understandable however I just think that June used those experiences to justify her actions which is just .... anyways just remember two wrongs don't make a right. The main thing that Athena represented in the book to me was a level of success and adoration that June was always aspiring for but could never quite reach.

Final Thoughts:

I think this book was very interesting because the main character perspective is very un-relatable to a general person's moral values and foundations. The premise of the book while very entertaining it does deal with important issues such as cultural appropriation, plagiarism, and cancel culture which helped me learn more about issues that I never would have in the first place. All in all I would recommend this book to anybody who likes witty commentary and morally grey characters.


4 out 5 stars


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