Amazon Books have announced Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang as the first ever winner of their Best Book of the Year award in the UK for 2023. The novel, which came out to great acclaim in May this year, beat shortlisted novels including The List by Yomi Adegoke and The Fraud by Zadie Smith, as well as non-fiction juggernauts like Ultra-Processed People by Chris Van Tulleken and The Diary of a CEO: The 33 Laws of Business and Life by Steven Bartlett.

“Writing is the closest thing we have to real magic. Writing is creating something out of nothing, is opening doors to other lands. Writing gives you power to shape your own world when the real one hurts too much.”
Excerpt from "Yellowface", R.F. Kuang
A picture of R.F. Kuang
Credit: Mike Styer, 2021

Yellowface is a dark satire on the publishing industry and the complexities of public discourse around Asian American representation. It became an instant bestseller for Kuang, who was previously known for her fantasy novels infused with Chinese history such as the bestselling Poppy War trilogy, and the equally acclaimed Babel.

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June Hayward, an unsuccessful author with only one publication to her name, wants to be her friend Athena Liu – a writer of immense talent and the world’s current literary darling. The story of Yellowface ignites when June steals the almost-finished novel manuscript of Athena’s newest masterpiece and publishes it under her own new ambiguous pen-name, “Juniper Song”.

Awards, record-breaking sales, interviews and big publishing deals happen for June almost overnight. With June’s wildest dreams coming true, is there anyone that might suspect that she might not actually be the real author behind the bestseller?

The cover of Yellowface next to Darren Hardy's comments

“It’s an honour to have Yellowface chosen as Amazon UK’s Best Book of the Year,” said Kuang. "I loved shaping these characters within a plot which takes so much inspiration from the book world and the author experience, of which entertaining readers is always the ultimate goal. I want to thank the readers who have been the greatest advocates for Yellowface.”

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Darren Hardy, Head of Editorial at Amazon Books, said “We were completely won over by Yellowface – the acidly satirical voice, the compelling plotline – beneath the unmissable yellow cover lies an intense page-turner that sparked discussion and captured our imagination. With brilliantly original narration and a tautly realised plot, this book packs a pacy punch whilst leaving the reader questioning the topical underlying themes. Kuang explores the weighty concepts of literary originality, cultural appropriation, the dark side of social media and cancel culture with finesse.”

This is the first time Amazon Books has chosen their ‘Book of the Year’ in the UK, but it follows in the footsteps of the award in the US, which has been running since 2000, and has included notable winners such as Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. The Amazon Books Editorial team hand-selected the shortlist and the ultimate winner from books published in 2023, representing a diverse range of genres and authors and featuring fresh voices alongside hidden gems. Readers played a key role in informing the decision, with Amazon Charts data and customer review ratings being important criteria.

Read more about Amazon UK’s Best Book of the Year Award 2023.