Friday, September 8, 2023


 I first came to Yellowface, a novel by Rebecca Kuang, through a Facebook site called Literary Fiction Lovers, or some such thing, which features fiction that for the most part is literally not literary fiction. It was just the name and the book cover art that piqued my interest. I had never heard of this author before and I had not read any reviews of the novel. In general I avoid reading reviews as they tend to color ones expectations and judgments. I read first, and then look at the reviews if the book itself has inspired further interest. Most of the comments on the book on this Facebook site were banal, vaguely negative, and purely suggestive that the commenters had failed to understand the text. Therefore, this became a book that I just had to read😉 There was just something in the nature of the cranky dissatisfaction that told me I might find a rare treasure here.

And I did! I absolutely loved Yellowface. I don't know whether everyone would, but certainly anyone familiar with the practice of fiction writing and the world of publishing will find this novel delicious. How might one describe it: a satirical horror story? A study in literary hypocrisy? An embittered comedy? Well, there are plenty of laughs for those who know when to laugh. And there is much to find familiar, sometimes painfully so, sometimes nostalgically so.

I guess the ultimate question is What is truth? And the answer is, as so  sharply pointed out by Ms. Kuang, that there is no truth. Or rather, there are many truths fashioned by their own set of alternative facts, each answered by yet another truth, purely subjective and self-justifying. It is all quite endless. I see your truth, and I raise you mine. We see this mechanic at work every day on social media--and indeed this author's lampooning of the same is spot on. 

This is certainly a novel I will read again when it has begun to fade from memory, and I do not have to wonder whether I will find even more of delight in the rereading, because it is just that kind of novel--literally!

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