For anyone else who was able to follow the glorious ActionKid’s (and many others’) revelatory work, who also find thems elves spellbound by etymology and the nuances of the spoken word, the literary masterpiece (#1 NYT bestseller) below is a must.


“From award-winning author R. F. Kuang comes Babel, a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal retort to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell that grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of language and translation as the dominating tool of the British empire.”

Editorial Reviews from Amazon:

“A fantastical takedown of 19th-century imperialism that’s as meaty as its title. R.F. Kuang proved her prowess at blending history and magic with her debut series, The Poppy War, and she’s done it once again in this sweeping novel that blends historical fantasy and dark academia…If, as Babel suggests, words contain magic, then Kuang has written something spellbinding.” — Oprah Daily

“Kuang follows her award-winning Poppy War trilogy with an engaging fantasy about the magic of language. Her richly descriptive stand-alone novel about an ever-expanding, alternate-world empire powered by magically enhanced silver talismans scrutinizes linguistics, history, politics, and the social customs of Victorian-era Great Britain.” — Booklist (starred review)

“It’s ambitious and powerful while displaying a deep love of language and literature…Dark academia as it should be.” — Kirkus Reviews

“R.F. Kuang has written a masterpiece. Through a meticulously researched and a wholly impressive deep dive into linguistics and the politics of language and translation, Kuang weaves a story that is part love-hate letter to academia, part scathing indictment of the colonial enterprise, and all fiery revolution.” — Rebecca Roanhorse, New York Times bestselling author of Black Sun

“Babel is a masterpiece. A stunningly brilliant exploration of identity, belonging, the cost of empire and revolution—and the true power of language. Kuang has written the book the world has been waiting for.” — Peng Shepherd, bestselling author of The Cartographers

“A brilliant and often harrowing exploration of violence, etymology, colonialism, and the intersections that run between them. Babel is as profound as it is moving.” — Alexis Henderson, author of The Year of the Witching

“If you only read one book this year, read this one. Through the incredibly believable alternative HF, Kuang has distilled the truth about imperialism and colonization in our world. Kuang’s depth of knowledge of history and linguistics is breathtaking. This book is a masterpiece in every sense of the word, a true privilege to read.”  — Jesse Sutanto, author of Dial A for Aunties

“BABEL is one of the finest standalone novels I’ve read. It is a victory for literature, and its quality is what every other dark academia novel should strive to be. Paying homage to the importance of languages, translations, identity, and ethnicities, BABEL is one of the most important works of the year.” — Novel Notions

About the Author:

Rebecca F. Kuang is the #1 New York Times bestselling and Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award nominated author of Babel, the Poppy War trilogy, and the forthcoming Yellowface. She is a Marshall Scholar, translator, and has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford. She is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale.

The local library where I live has a program where a patron is able to request any book under $50 for free that is shipped directly to one’s home! It is called the ZIP program and is most likely available at your local branch for California residents.


There are also two websites that allows patrons to check out e-books and audio books from their local branch using a library card for free.


“Babel”, prompted me to download Google Lens. While fiddling with the translation feature I was delighted to find extra copies of my grandfather’s award winning book that I thought our family was starting to run out of copies for! This could not have been a more relevant discovery as I was quickly reminded by the dusk jacket about the stories we heard at a young age about my grandfather teaching himself English by memorizing a textbook while imprisoned in an internment camp after fleeing from the north during the Korean War and eventually go on to become a translator\interpreter for the US Armed Forces.

(using Google Lens)

Seonghee Lee (Matriarch)

As an aside, for any Korean speakers that are are interested, below are links to the 60th Annual Baeksang Awards (백상예술대상).