The English Book Club
The English Book Club

A meta-novel on writing, publishing, and racism: “Yellowface”

We discussed Rebecca F. Kuang’s Yellowface on January 11, 2024. This 2023 novel centers around authors June Hayward and Athena Liu. While June struggles to get her writing career going, Athena becomes a literary success story. When Athena dies in a freak accident, June acts on impulse: she steals not only Athena’s manuscript of a new masterpiece, she steals her whole identity and claims a space in the spotlight for herself.

PADERBORN2READ Rating for Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang

4.5 out of 5

Members’ Opinions

Yellowface was a fascinating and entertaining read. Pretty much every main character is annoying, but they are amazingly well written and read extremely realistic. The plot is an ondulating monster of a back-and-forth between writer’s realism and ghostly surrealism, dotted with witty humour and cringeworthy embarrassment alike. The writing kept me constantly intrigued and ready for more.

In the end, I would classify Yellowface as a meta-novel on much more than just a stolen manuscript. The novel reflects on writing and publishing practices, on racism in all its shapes and forms, on abstract concepts like originality, text, and voice as well as on current discourses like cancel culture. To me, this is certainly a novel that I will be recommending to others.”

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Winter Term 2023/2024

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