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Novel of writing life in USA

7th July 2023

Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang, novel of writing life in USA – Washington DC.

Novel of writing life in USA


This is very much a novel of the moment, everywhere you look it pops up. And there is good reason. The writing style is very competent and propulsive and keeps a good level of tension right from the outset.

June Hayward sometimes spends time hanging out with literary star Athena Liu. Neither woman seems to have a great circle of friends, so it is an arrangement that suits, and Athena is more than happy to pay for any joint outings, given her stellar earnings. One evening they are together in Athena’s flat and she chokes on food, and despite attempting the Heimlich manoeuvre, June cannot save her friend. She, of course, calls for medical assistance and whilst she is waiting, she espies Athena’s new manuscript, which she carefully filches and stows in her bag.

This is an unseen document, handily typed out in paper format. Once the dust has settled, June starts to trawl through the manuscript, fully aware that no-one will have seen it, as it is Athena’s style to sit on her work until it is complete. The likelihood of anyone knowing about it is zero and thus an idea starts to form. It is a story of the Chinese labour corps in WW1, a subject that Athena had been researching as a writer of Chinese descent. June is white and Western and although it seems an unusual subject for her to proffer, it is hailed as a masterpiece, which will be published under her new name of Juniper Song, a vaguely Chinese-sounding name. A publishing success it is indeed; but there are people who are suspicious of the novel and gradually they start to crowd in on her.

This is an engaging story of loneliness within publishing, the machiavellian machinations that clearly just MIGHT go on behind the scenes. It is also a story of theft, plagiarism and misappropriation, cunning and despair, a story that comes together well and keeps a tense sense of pace.

An original voice for sure. Setting, in terms of TripFiction, isn’t particularly strong.

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  1. User: Yvonne @Fiction_Books

    Posted on: 07/07/2023 at 7:55 am

    I have, of course, seen this book just about everywhere, but not having been particularly struck by the cover, I have never bothered checking out the premise – A case in point about never judging a book by its cover, as it sounds really good and has already been added to my wish list, so thanks for the great feature 🙂