I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but I was able to pluck Rebecca Kuang's viral satire, Yellowface, off the shelf at the Athenaeum library; there are 87 people in the queue to borrow it from my local.

I raced through this novel, though parts of it were hard to read -- not because they were badly written, but because their forensic dissection of white guilt, overt and unconscious racism, and self-righteous self-justification were so painfully accurate and shameful. Don't get me wrong -- Yellowface is very funny as well as excruciating, not just about racism but also about the world of publishing (fortunately, as a children's author I have been spared the worst excesses of the publicity machine and the cycle of the Hot New Thing). I think I read almost this entire novel with a wince on my face.

Kuang's protagonist, June Hayward (known as Juniper Song after she steals her dead friend's manuscript and passes it off as her own), is monstrous, but she's also pitiful in her longing for admiration, validation and praise. I'm sure I'm not the only author to read this book and catch a glimpse of painful self-recognition in the character of June.


  1. Kate, I tried to read this and got nowhere. I was really looking forward to it, thought it was going to be right up my alley but even though I skimmed and skipped (my method for finding a way into a book) just couldn't. Maybe it was just how horrid June was? She made me squirm.

  2. Yes, she was ghastly, and her self-justifications made me squirm, too. I think I was able to get through it by interspersing it with other books, it would have been hard to spend a few days solely in her company.