ExplorAsian – books, conversation and music

Dishonesty, dark humor, deadly consequences…The thin line between representation and exploitation is the theme explored in Rebecca F. Kuang’s latest book Yellowface.

Kuang, a Chinese-American fantasy writer will join the Vancouver Writers Fest, Massy Books, and SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs on May 22 with her upcoming literary thriller, Yellowface (HarperCollins Publishers, 2023) – a timely and cutting satire that investigates racism in the publishing industry and beyond, with razor-sharp precision.

Thriller twist

A tale of identity theft and its dire consequences, Yellowface tells the alarming yet humorous story of authors June Hayward and Athena Liu who were supposed to be twin rising stars. While Athena Liu has become a literary darling, June Hayward is just a nobody: Who wants stories about basic white girls?

Rebecca F. Kuang | Photo courtesy of Rebecca F. Kuang

When she witnesses Liu’s death in a freak accident, Hayward acts without thinking and decides to steal Liu’s just-finished masterpiece: an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I.

She then publishes it under her own name; or rather, her new identity as Juniper Song, complete with an equivocal ethnic author photo. But as damning evidence emerges, Hayward, who is not an Asian American, must race to escape the deadly consequences, and keep what she believes she deserves.

Kuang will speak with Eddy Boudel Tan, a Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Rising Star, about cultural appropriation, the erasure of Asian-American voices, and her own literary career.

Tan, the author of two novels: After Elias, a finalist for the Edmund White Award and the ReLit Awards, and The Rebellious Tide, a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Award. In 2021, he was named a Rising Star by Writers’ Trust of Canada. His short stories can be found in Joyland, Yolk, Gertrude Press, The G&LR, and two anthologies. He lives with his husband in Vancouver where, while listening to the language of birds from his balcony, he’s currently writing his next novel.

Books will be for sale at the event courtesy of Massy Books. People who attend the talk can also order a book at a discounted rate. The pre-sale will be limited to two copies per purchase, and books can be picked up at the event. R. F. Kuang will be signing books after the event.

And a bit of music

Eddy Boudel Tan. | Photo courtesy of Eddy Boudel Tan

This year, the BC Chinese Orchestra is collaborating with the Grand Ensemble Chorus to present a concert on May 20 at the Gateway Theatre titled Spring Blooms Memories of Old. The concert features a mix of traditional and contemporary repertoire. The evening will begin with a rousing arrangement of Dance of the Golden Snake (Jinshe Kuangwu) a traditional piece based on a qupai tune called Laohua Liuban and will end with a tribute to pop legend, Theresa Teng. In the medley, Memories of the Colour Blue (Lanse de Sinian), the audience will have an opportunity to sing along with the orchestra on famous tunes such as The Moon Represents my Heart (Yueliang daibiao wode Xin) and The Story of A Small Town (Xiaocheng gushi), and much more. The concert also features Memories of Childhood (Tongniang de Huiyi) by famous Taiwanese composer Lianghui Lu and world premieres of two choral-orchestra arrangements by Maggie Lu: Chrysanthemum Stage (Juhua Tai) and Praise to the Pear Blossom (Lihua Song).

For more information visit: explorasian.org