Collage of book covers: Butter by Asako Yuzuki; Yellowface by R.F. Kuang; The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz; Misery by Stephen King; Season of Eclipse by Terry Wolverton; The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin; Babel by R.F. Kuang

6 Degrees of Separation: From “Butter” to “Babel”

It’s time for another adventure in Kate’s 6 Degrees of Separation Meme from her blog, Books Are My Favourite and Best. We are given a book to start with, and from there we free associate six books.

This month’s starting point is a crime novel with difference – Butter by Asako Yuzuki.

Inspired by the real case of the convicted con woman and serial killer, “The Konkatsu Killer,” Asako Yuzuki’s Butter is a vivid, unsettling exploration of misogyny, obsession, romance and the transgressive pleasures of food in Japan.


This sounds like a novel I could really sink my teeth into, but I have a lot of other books on my reading plate that I need to get to first. So I’ll begin with one of those.

Look at that bright-yellow cover of Butter. It immediately reminded me of a book on my TBR list that I hope to get to soon: Yellowface by R.F. Kuang. In Kuang’s book, June Hayward witnesses the death of fellow aspiring writer Athena Liu, then steals Athena’s just-finished manuscript of “an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I” (Goodreads). Hayward publishes the book under an Asian-sounding pseudonym. 

The story that Yellowface tells sounds similar to the plot of The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Jacob Bonner, a washed-up writer, formerly a promising young novelist, steals a book plot from one of his MFA students. When Bonner discovers his former student has died without ever publishing the book, he writes and publishes his own book, to great acclaim, under his own name. But, of course, as in Yellowface, there must be consequences . . .

In Misery, Stephen King gives us the story of another author who finds himself in a precarious situation because of his writing. Paul Sheldon, author of a series of historical romances, is injured in an isolated area and rescued by a former nurse now living in a cabin in the woods. But his good fortune gradually changes its nature: His rescuer is a rabid fan of his series, and she’s not at all happy that, in a recent novel, Sheldon killed off the series heroine.

Marielle Wing, protagonist of Season of Eclipse by Terry Wolverton, is a best-selling novelist who’s still miffed that her most recent novel didn’t win the Pulitzer Prize for which it was a finalist. When Marielle witnesses a terrorist bombing at JFK airport and snaps photos of suspects fleeing the scene, she is forced into witness protection under an assumed name. Like King’s Paul Sheldon, she soon finds herself in a precarious situation. Unable to figure out whom she can trust, she has to figure out who she really is and who she wants to be. 

For my fifth degree, using word association, I offer The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, the first volume in The Broken Earth fantasy trilogy. Like Yellowface, this book (and its two companions) is high-up on my TBR list because . . . 

. . . I’ve been wanting to read more fantasy since finishing Babel by R.F. Kuang.

I’m always excited when I’m able to bring a 6 Degrees chain full circle. This month the first degree and sixth degree entries are books by the same author.

Where did 6 Degrees of Separation take you this month?

© 2024 by Mary Daniels Brown

8 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: From “Butter” to “Babel””

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      I’m not a big fantasy reader, but I loved Babel. Its underlying premise is a brilliant concept that well illustrates how money creates and maintains power, and how that power takes on a life of its own. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks, Davida. To be honest, I didn’t get any other associations at all from the starting book, so the yellow cover it was.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Interesting you should say that, Liz. Except for Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, I don’t read much fantasy, either. But Babel is downright brilliant in both its conception and execution (see my reply to LiteraryEyes above).

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