Why the publishing trade is abuzz about 'Yellowface'

R.F. Kuang shouldn’t be new to the literary scene. She is already a bestselling fantasy writer, in addition to a doctoral scholar in East Asian languages and literature at Yale. “Yellowface,” Kuang’s fifth novel and first foray into literary fiction, is being hailed as a biting satire of the publishing trade. 

The story follows June, a 20-something white writer struggling to revive her writing profession whereas harboring envy of her frenemy and fellow author, Athena Liu. Whereas June’s debut flopped, Athena has had runaway success as the most recent Asian-American writer of observe. After Athena’s unintended loss of life, June steals her unreleased manuscript and passes it off as her personal. 

The novel is “a breezy and propulsive learn” and “a satirical literary thriller that is satisfying and uncomfortable in equal measure,” writer Amal El-Mohtar wrote in a assessment for The New York Occasions. “Yellowface” can be “probably the most granular critique of business publishing I’ve encountered in fiction,” El-Mohtar added, “and seeing the merciless, detached vagaries of 1’s trade so ably skewered is viciously satisfying.” 

Kuang absolutely intends to make readers uncomfortable in her exploration of the pervasiveness of cultural appropriation, racism, and tokenism within the publishing trade, based mostly on her personal experiences as a printed writer. “Studying about racism shouldn’t be a feel-good expertise,” Kuang stated in a separate interview with the Occasions. “I do need folks to be uncomfortable with the way in which that they are skilled to write down about and market and promote books, and be uncomfortable with who’s within the room, and the way they’re speaking about who’s within the room.” 

The meta satire is a “robust commentary on the exploitation and rigors writers face beneath the strain to achieve success,” author, editor, and literary critic Keishel Williams wrote for NPR. The e-book is a “multi-layer, complicated dialog that tackles a number of issues in regards to the publishing trade without delay.” Cultural appropriation, a central theme, “galvanizes your entire story and at varied angles challenges the concept of what sort of tales writers are allowed to write down given their race, gender, sexual orientation, and so forth.,” Williams stated.”Such a interrogation of the coopting of tradition and tales for capital achieve is well-received.”