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If I Had Your Face

Publisher: , 2020
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

A riveting debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossible standards of beauty, after-hours room salons catering to wealthy men, ruthless social hierarchies, and K-pop mania

“Powerful and provocative … a novel about female strength, spirit, resilience—and the solace that friendship can sometimes provide.”— The Washington Post

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time • NPR • Esquire • Bustle • BBC • New York Post • InStyle 

Kyuri is an achingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a Seoul “room salon,” an exclusive underground bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake threatens her livelihood.

Kyuri’s roommate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Returning to Korea after college, she finds herself in a precarious relationship with the heir to one of the country’s biggest conglomerates.

Down the hall in their building lives Ara, a hairstylist whose two preoccupations sustain her: an obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that she hopes will change her life.

And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to have a baby that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise in Korea’s brutal economy.

Together, their stories tell a gripping tale at once unfamiliar and unmistakably universal, in which their tentative friendships may turn out to be the thing that ultimately saves them.

LKL says:

We enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this novel. It’s an enjoyable portrayal of the gulf between the haves and the have-nots in contemporary Korea, particularly highlighted by the doomed relationship between an artist from the provinces and the uber-rich scion of a chaebol family. It’s interesting that both Frances Cha in this novel and Hannah Michell in her second novel (Excavations) choose to include (a) a room salon and (b) an orphanage as key plot points, though with Excavations it’s the famous Holt adoption agency while here it’s a fictional (?) orphanage established by an American philanthropist to benefit the orphans of Cheongju – where several of the characters in the book grew up.

Read a full review in the Guardian.

LKL rating: score-2score-2score-2score-1score-0

Entry on here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.