Yellowface (PDF/ePUB) By R.F. Kuang Read Online For Free.
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Authors After graduating from Yale in the same year, June Hayward and Athena Liu were expected to become literary superstars together. But Athena is a favourite among readers of all genres, and June wasn’t even published in paperback. June is convinced that no one is interested in reading about typical white girls.
As a result, June takes drastic action after seeing Athena’s untimely death: she steals her unpublished experimental work on the unsung contributions of Chinese labourers to the British and French war efforts during World War I.
What if June makes some changes to Athena’s novel and passes it off as her own while submitting it to an agent? What if she agrees to have her new publisher rename her as Juniper Song, complete with an author headshot that may be interpreted as being of a different race? Doesn’t this part of history merit telling, no matter who does it? June asserts this, and that appears to be the case according to the New York Times bestseller list.
But June can’t escape Athena’s shadow, and new proof could destroy her (illegitimate) achievements. June learns just how far she is willing to go to maintain what she believes is rightfully hers as she races to conceal her secret.
Yellowface addresses issues of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation not only in the publishing industry but also in the continual erasure of Asian-American voices and history by Western white society through its wholly engrossing first-person voice. The work by R. F. Kuang is spot-on, insightful, and a pleasure to read.
About The Author R.F. Kuang
novelist of the Poppy War trilogy and Babel: An Arcane History, among many others, Rebecca F. Kuang is a Marshall Scholar, translator, and award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist. She has an MPhil from Cambridge in Chinese Studies and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford; she is currently in Yale for a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures.
Yellowface Book Summary
June Hayward (named by her hippie mother Juniper Song Hayward), a white-ish American novelist, tells the story in the first person present tense. Hayward’s career seems to be over after an underwhelming response to her first novel, which quickly dashed her hopes of becoming a literary superstar after landing an agent and book deal.
The premise is straightforward: this is June’s first time staying in Athena’s posh flat. Athena’s next novel, which she has been writing in almost total secrecy, is set in the Chinese Labour Corps during World War I. After a night of drinking, Athena chokes on a pancake; June fails to perform even a partially functional Heimlich manoeuvre, but when leaving the death scene, she does manage to carry a part-finished historical-fiction manuscript.
After completing Athena’s unfinished draught as a writing exercise, the author has second thoughts about claiming authorship and instead decides to submit the work as her own.
From that point on, the literary stardom that June craves (and at times implies was denied to her due to her lack of diversity) arrives at a breathtaking speed, matched only by the pacing and immediacy of the novel’s writing. This is especially true after the publishing decision to face up to appropriation claims by playing up June’s nomadic childhood and for her to publish under her quirky and ethnically ambiguous first and second names.
After this, a backlash ensues, typically involving a junior editorial assistant (who posts the first negative Goodreads review), a LARB reviewer who specialises in taking down the latest literary darlings, scathing Goodreads reviews and comments, scathing You Tube critiques, online activists, awkward event panels, and Twitter storms. Despite her concerns that she will be found out, June pushes through with her claims and her literary stealing, with help from a counter-backlash to the culture war.
More Info on Author and the Book
The novel is written by a Chinese-American author posing as a white author posing as a Chinese-American author, and the author is also writing something considerably different from her normal (fantasy) fare, so there are plenty of meta-fictional conceits to go around.
Based on the reviews I’ve read on Goodreads, some of the criticisms levelled at Athena’s writing have been directed at the author (though I wouldn’t put it past the book There is a possibility that some of these accounts may be fraudulent or created by the same individual (often referred to as sock-puppet accounts). It is worth noting that the author, despite being a cult figure, exhibits an unusual inclination towards giving her own books 5-star reviews. Just recently, her previous novel won the best fiction category at the British Book Awards, a prestigious industry award that focuses more on the promotion of books than on the books themselves and whose citation makes reference to the BookTok campaign and special purpose editions tailored to different audiences rather than the book’s actual content. Even more so, this book appears to be taking over Book Instagram.
The novel’s opening scene takes place on a rooftop bar that bears my name, which is an example of cultural appropriation; I am all too aware of my own “Goldenface” attempts to hide behind an Avatar that conceals my middle-aged white male identity.