Yellowface

Yellowface

by R. F. Kuang

Narrated by Helen Laser

Unabridged — 8 hours, 39 minutes

Yellowface

Yellowface

by R. F. Kuang

Narrated by Helen Laser

Unabridged — 8 hours, 39 minutes

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Overview

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ¿ A REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK

“Hard to put down, harder to forget.”Stephen King, #1 New York Times bestselling author

White lies. Dark humor. Deadly consequences... Bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn't write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American-in this chilling and hilariously cutting novel from R.F. Kuang, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Babel. 

Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars. But Athena's a literary darling. June Hayward is literally nobody. Who wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.

So when June witnesses Athena's death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena's just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I.

So what if June edits Athena's novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song-complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn't this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That's what June claims, and the New York Times bestseller list seems to agree.

But June can't get away from Athena's shadow, and emerging evidence threatens to bring June's (stolen) success down around her. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.

With its totally immersive first-person voice, Yellowface grapples with questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation, as well as the terrifying alienation of social media. R.F. Kuang's novel is timely, razor-sharp, and eminently readable. 


Editorial Reviews

APRIL 2023 - AudioFile

Helen Laser gives a mesmerizing performance in this poignant novel about race, censorship, and the capriciousness of social media. When June Hayward and Athena Liu get together to celebrate Athena's success as an Asian writer, the night goes incredibly wrong. Athena ends up dead, and June ends up with Athena's manuscript. Laser's inflections accurately portray retiring June and her confident, classy nemesis, Athena. Ensuing events include June's rise to fame and subsequent descent into guilt and delusions amid social media fallout and increasing accusations of theft and cultural appropriation. Laser captures all of it with compelling crispness that brings out the novel's themes. This is a riveting production of a thrilling and thought-provoking story. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2023, Portland, Maine

Publishers Weekly

★ 03/13/2023

A struggling novelist passes off a manuscript left by her dead college friend in this excellent satire from Kuang (Babel, or the Necessity of Violence). Athena Liu, who is Chinese American, dies accidentally by choking at her Washington, D.C., apartment while celebrating a movie deal for one of her novels. At the celebration is June Hayward, who met Athena when they were at Yale together, and whose own career has stalled after her publisher folded. Since then, while watching Athena’s meteoric rise, she came to find her old friend “unbearable.” In the commotion after Athena’s death, June, who is white, pilfers a manuscript from her desk. Titled The Last Front, it’s a historical novel about the role of Chinese laborers in WWI. After June gets a six-figure deal for it, she excises slurs used against Chinese laborers and adds a love story between a white woman and a Chinese soldier. Against objections from Candice Lee, a Korean American editorial assistant, the book goes to market, where it climbs up the bestseller list and attracts a vociferous backlash from the AAPI community, plus a scathing review from a prominent critic, who calls it a “white redemption” narrative. June grows increasingly anxious as she’s accused online by @AthenaLiusGhost of stealing Athena’s work, then starts thinking she’s seeing Athena at readings and around town. Kuang provides a sharp analysis of publishing’s blind spots and guides the plot toward a thrilling face-off between June and Athena’s “ghost.” This is not to be missed. Agent: Hannah Bowman, Liz Dawson Assoc. (May)

From the Publisher

This is a great read. Crime, satire, horror, paranoia, questions of cultural appropriation. Plenty of nasty social media pile-ons, too. But, basically, just a great story. Hard to put down, harder to forget.” — Stephen King

“Viciously satisfying…addictive.” — New York Times Book Review

"Well-executed, gripping, fast-paced novel." — NPR

"Reading Yellowface felt like being inside a wild, brutal, psychological knife fight with a deranged clown. A merciless satire that left me screaming inside... from both its horror and humor."  — Constance Wu, star of Crazy Rich Asians and author of Making a Scene

"At once a brilliant satire that mixes horror and humor; a nuanced exploration of race, heritage, identity, and diversity in publishing; and an honest look at the hell that is social media, this might just be Kuang's best." — Boston Globe

"Yellowface is one of the most transfixing novels I’ve read in ages… Kuang boldly interrogates literary hot-button issues like privilege, appropriation, and authenticity, leaving it open for readers themselves to decide where to draw the line."   — Zakiya Dalila Harris, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Black Girl

"It's addictive, shocking, compelling, ridiculous, and extremely fun to read by turns." — Paste Magazine

“Yellowface is a brittle, eviscerating read that affected me bodily. Kuang’s oeuvre consistently finds new ways to expose and interrogate systems of power, in this case tackling the commodification and consumption of art with both swagger and sophistication. Yellowface really is THAT bitch.” — Olivie Blake, New York Times Bestselling author of The Atlas Six

"A spiky, snarky, shady, smart, sinister take on white privilege." — Nikki May, author of Wahala

"Yellowface is brilliant satire—thought provoking, thrilling, and hitting a little too close to home. A must read commentary on the line between representation and exploitation and those who are willing to cross it for fame. Everyone in publishing's wide orbit should read this, and take a long look in the mirror." — Vaishnavi Patel, New York Times Bestselling Author of Kaikeyi

"Yellowface is a spicy, satirical page-turner that skewers the racism and tokenization in the publishing and entertainment industries, the vanity of social media, and the lengths at which people will go to remain in the glaring spotlight."  — Tracey Lien, author of All That's Left Unsaid

"They say you should write the book that only you can write. Well, no one else but R.F. Kuang could have written Yellowface. A brilliant and unflinching take on white performativity and publishing. I'm not exaggerating when I say that Kuang is one of the most important voices in publishing today." — Jesse Q. Sutanto, author of Dial A for Aunties

"A darkly satirical thriller about greed, truth, identity, and art—and who a story really belongs to. Reading Yellowface was like riding a roller coaster with no safety belt. I screamed the whole way through!" — Peng Shepherd, author of The Cartographers

"Excellent satire from Kuang...This is not to be missed."  — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This unsettling and electrifying book piercingly addresses issues of cultural appropriation and racial identity.” — Library Journal

"There’s SO MUCH I recognised (with the odd full-body cringe) about the vagaries of publishing and the ego bin fire of being a writer and SO MUCH I learned about my own white privilege but above all it’s a funny, engrossing read about what people do when they reckon they can get away with it." — Erin Kelly, author of The Skeleton Key

"Her magnificent novel uses satire to shine a light on systemic racial discrimination and the truth that often hides behind the twisted narratives constructed by those in power." — Booklist (starred review)

APRIL 2023 - AudioFile

Helen Laser gives a mesmerizing performance in this poignant novel about race, censorship, and the capriciousness of social media. When June Hayward and Athena Liu get together to celebrate Athena's success as an Asian writer, the night goes incredibly wrong. Athena ends up dead, and June ends up with Athena's manuscript. Laser's inflections accurately portray retiring June and her confident, classy nemesis, Athena. Ensuing events include June's rise to fame and subsequent descent into guilt and delusions amid social media fallout and increasing accusations of theft and cultural appropriation. Laser captures all of it with compelling crispness that brings out the novel's themes. This is a riveting production of a thrilling and thought-provoking story. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2023, Portland, Maine

Kirkus Reviews

2023-02-23
What happens when a midlist author steals a manuscript and publishes it as her own?

June Hayward and Athena Liu went to Yale together, moved to D.C. after graduation, and are both writers, but the similarities end there. While June has had little success since publication and is struggling to write her second novel, Athena has become a darling of the publishing industry, much to June’s frustration. When Athena suddenly dies, June, almost accidentally, walks off with her latest manuscript, a novel about the World War I Chinese Labour Corps. June edits the novel and passes it off as her own, and no one seems the wiser, but once the novel becomes a smash success, cracks begin to form. When June faces social media accusations and staggering writer’s block, she can’t shake the feeling that someone knows the truth about what she’s done. This satirical take on racism and success in the publishing industry at times veers into the realm of the unbelievable, but, on the whole, witnessing June’s constant casual racism and flimsy justifications for her actions is somehow cathartic. Yes, publishing is like this; finally someone has written it out. At times, the novel feels so much like a social media feed that it’s impossible to stop reading—what new drama is waiting to unfold. and who will win out in the end? An incredibly meta novel, with commentary on everything from trade reviews to Twitter, the ultimate message is clear from the start, which can lead to a lack of nuance. Kuang, however, does manage to leave some questions unanswered: fodder, perhaps, for a new tweetstorm.

A quick, biting critique of the publishing industry.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940174934122
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/16/2023
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,179
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