Why you should read Yellowface

Rebecca Kuang helped me rediscover the joy I lost somewhere on my reading journey

Anton Kutselyk

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the photo is mine

How did I find the book

Last week, I stumbled on a new bookstore in Kyiv. Again. If someone is winning this war, it’s Ukrainian books and bookstores. Hopefully, they won’t burn in the fire of war.

I was lethargically strolling the city and saw this bookstore packed with people, followed the urge and got inside to mix up with other bookworms. Kyiv was raining so many bookworms were crawling the bookstore. We were fighting for books! No, we weren’t. All bookworms behaved civil and docile.

Inside, I stumbled on a book. It was staring at me with its, you know, “almond-shaped eyes” and bright yellow cover. It was expensive. A frugal attack stopped me from buying it. I left, bookless. In a few days, I entered the bookstore again and snatched it from the shelves like a magpie hunting for a shiny… book in a bookstore.

At home, Yellowface by Rebecca Kuang landed on my bedside table and lay there for three days at most. I forgot how fast I can read when I like a book. It feels like a curse once you get into a long period of slow reading and can’t find that one special book to pull you out of it.

Yellowface finally got me going. It got me going so much that I kept telling my boyfriend how much I enjoyed reading it. I didn’t need to get familiar with the character’s voice. I didn’t need to get used to the pace, vocabulary, context and other things you sometimes need to get used to as a reader. It felt so natural, smooth and enjoyable — like eating a meal you instantly love but never tried before or having a chat with someone who speaks the way you speak.

A match made in literary heaven!

Why did we match

A match happens when your values align significantly. I think that’s what happened between me and Kuang. Her “lazy and unrealistic” plot twists and “nuance-less and simplistic characters” felt intentional and purposeful. It took so much pressure off me as a reader…and a writer, too! It’s like she told me look I’m a bestselling author but I can allow myself to be rough, imperfect and make unrealistic choices. I allow myself

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Anton Kutselyk

I live in Kyiv and write about war, peace, books and coffee.