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Yellowface by R.F. Kuang dives into the complexities of the publishing world and explores themes of cultural appropriation, ambition, and the blurring lines of reality and fiction. Here’s a breakdown of the key elements:

  • Struggling Writer and Lost Opportunity: June Hayward, a writer facing career stagnation, witnesses the sudden death of her rival, the highly successful Athena Liu.

  • Temptation and Deception: June stumbles upon Athena’s unfinished manuscript, a story about Chinese migrant workers, and makes a questionable decision.

  • Psychological Unraveling: Fueled by envy, desperation, and a touch of paranoia, June takes a drastic step that sets off a chain of events with unexpected consequences.

  • Blurring Reality: The narrative delves into June’s mental state, making it unclear at times what’s real and what’s a product of her manipulation and anxieties.

  • Consequences and Redemption: As the truth unfolds, June faces the repercussions of her actions. The story explores the possibility of redemption and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s choices.

  • Social Commentary: Yellowface tackles the issue of cultural appropriation in literature and the publishing industry’s exploitation of diversity for profit.

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