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Yellowface: A Thought-provoking Satire On Racism, Scandal, And Truth.


‘Yellowface’ by R.F. Kuang is a best seller and Goodreads Winner For Best Fiction(2023). As a regular on Goodreads, the later title prompted me to explore this beautiful and thought-provoking piece of fiction. The story is told through the lens of June Hayward. She is an aspiring author who becomes entangled in a web of jealousy, plagiarism, and ambition. The story soon mixes with the complex themes of social media witch-hunting, online scandals, racism and white privilege in publishing. It converts into a satire on the publishing industry. As the layers of the story peel off, it becomes more satisfying to get involved with the plot.

"Yellowface" by R.F. Kuang
“Yellowface” by R.F. Kuang is a best seller and Goodreads Winner For Best Fiction(2023).

Yellowface’s central character, June Hayward, represents the white privilege in the publishing industry. June claims a deceased friend’s unfinished manuscript. She publishes it as her own by taking advantage of a system that favours white authors. The author shows through the plot how June’s jealousy towards her deceased friend Athena, her mediocre debut and her lack of originality led to her justifying her actions. Kuang meticulously shows June’s manipulation. June rebrands the manuscript by erasing the characters cultural specificity, created by her deceased friend. She then amplifies the roles and voices of white characters to suit a predominantly white readership. Kuang’s writing here is stark sarcasm. It mocks the publishing industry, which subtly perpetuates racial stereotypes and sidelines marginalized voices.

Yellowface's central character, June Hayward
Yellowface’s central character, June Hayward.

‘Yellowface’ also explores the disturbing trend of social media trolls and scandals. It shows their real psychological impact, as seen in June’s plight. Kuang masterfully captures the public tendency to get involved in a brewing online controversy. The plot shows June’s fall as an author. Then, the assassination of her professional and personal life on social media. The subsequent fallout of her plagiarism scandal becomes fodder for social media and trolling. The readers get an insight from June’s reflection on her state – “Most of the accounts that participate so clearly do not care about the truth. They’re here for the entertainment. These people love to have a target, and they’ll tear apart anything you put in front of them.”

Yellowface - June Hayward overwhelmed by social media
“But the worst part is, sometimes the trolls have me doubting my own understanding of myself.”June Hayward.

Kuang has also highlighted a paradox related to scandals: that, in the end, scandals drive sales and “the frenzied discourse will drive sales”. This presents a contrarian viewpoint, where profits come not from content quality but from its perverseness. At the end of the story, June fully embraces this paradox. She sees its importance and shows how, with thought and planning, scandals can be used to drive profits and sales.

‘Yellowface’ mirrors the uncomfortable truths of publishing. The industry prioritizes profits over principles, which is reflected in the following: “And once you’re writing for the market, it doesn’t matter what stories are burning inside you. It matters what audiences want to see, and no one cares about the inner musings of a plain, straight white girl from Philly.” Furthermore, a society which relishes and finds entertainment in the spectacle of others’ downfall, scandal, and controversy, as, “online, you can tune into all the hot gossip, even if you’re not nearly important enough to have a seat in the room where it happens. Online, you can tell Stephen King to go fuck himself. Online, you can discover that the current literary star of the moment is actually so problematic that all of her works should be canceled, forever. Reputations in publishing are built and destroyed, constantly, online.”

Yellowface - Scandal and Profits
“so sales are … up. And it’s always nice when sales are up.” – Brett

Through the story, Kuang touches on broader subjects. These include an individual’s moral decay and the flaws in the system that allow such decay and yet reward it. The broader question for readers is to question their role in a culture that often ignores subtle ethical transgressions in the name of entertainment. And role racial privileges that come with birth and can never be bridged.

In conclusion, ‘Yellowface’ starts with a gripping narrative and soon transforms into a social satire on morality, ethics, ambition, scandal, social media, and race’s pervasive influence in the publishing industry. Kuang’s writing is gripping, and her social portrayal is masterful. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, which resonated with me for quite some time. It is a mark of great storytelling that leaves its readers to reflect and ponder long after the last page is turned.

My Rating:-

Yellowface: Goodreads Rating: 3.82

Reviewed On:

  • e-book
  • Total Pages: 326
  • Genre: Fiction/Satire
  • Yellowface: R.F. Kuang

About the author


An Engineer by education, public servant by profession and a pet parent. A novice cyclist, avid reader, adventure and cricket enthusiast, computer gamer, chess player by passion, overall a learner at heart. Life is too short for the overwhelming variety and entirety of experiences. There are so many things to try, learn and experience.

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Maahi Gautam

masterfully tackles racism, scandal, and truth with thought-provoking satire, inviting readers to confront societal issues with humor and depth.

Nadiya Hussain

This review blog makes the book must-read for me as it’s seeking nuanced exploration of complex themes.

Nandini Shankar

Well composed review blog by the author.. Quit impressed especially the way it’s elaborated makes the reader’s to understand the essence…


Very good


With wit and insight, Yellowface confronts issues of racism, scandal, and truth in a satire that’s both thought-provoking and engaging.”


Yellowface cleverly satirizes issues of racism, scandal, and truth, offering a fresh perspective and sparking important conversations.”

Shubham singh

Wow! I am amazed you picked this book to review… and a well written reviewed.

Alisha Singh

“Yellowface” is a captivating story that tackles tough issues like racism, online culture, and the world of publishing. The main character, June, makes a bad choice by stealing a writing from her friend who passed away. The story explores the consequences
of her actions and how social media can spread negativity. It’s a good read and interesting fiction that makes you think.

By Vishal
Hilly Reviews Trek Books, Trail Change…

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