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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
“Absolutely stunning . . . If I Had Your Face marks the entrance of a bright new voice in fiction.”—Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six
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.
Kyrui’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.
About the Author
Frances Cha is a former travel and culture editor for CNN in Seoul. She grew up in the United States, Hong Kong, and South Korea. A graduate of Dartmouth College and the Columbia University MFA writing program, she has written for The Atlantic, The Believer, and the Yonhap News Agency, among others, and has lectured at Columbia University, Ewha Womans University, Seoul National University, and Yonsei University. She lives in Brooklyn.
“It’s difficult to believe that this is Frances Cha’s first novel—she’s a masterful storyteller. I was riveted reading about a world I knew nothing about, and from the first page, it was clear Cha was the best possible guide.”—Ann Napolitano, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Edward
“With graceful precision, unflinching honesty, and intimate compassion, Frances Cha writes, in exacting detail, of the desperation and dreams of five young women in modern-day Korea. . . . A haunting novel of intelligence and sensitivity.”—Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of Rabbits for Food
“Each voice in this quartet cuts through the pages so cleanly and clearly that the overall effect is one of dangerously glittering harmony. . . . As engrossing as a war chant, or a mosaic formed with blades, every piece a memento sharpened on those unyielding barriers between us and our ideal lives.”—Helen Oyeyemi, author of Gingerbread
“Make way for Frances Cha, an entrancing new voice who guides us into the complexities and contradictions of modern-day Seoul, a dissonant, neon world that is ripped open to bare the same universal and human challenges that face us all. I devoured this novel in a single sitting.”—Janice Y. K. Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Piano Teacher
“Few American novelists know Seoul the way Frances Cha does and in her intimate, panoramic debut, she brings that dazzling city to life. There are voices here you haven’t heard before. . . . An enthralling read from the very first page.”—Ed Park, author of Personal Days
“A provoking, ultimately inspiring tale of women pushing back against oppressive customs both traditional and new . . . Frances Cha, like her quartet of narrators, has a rebel’s heart.”—Jonathan Dee, author of The Locals
“Troubling, kaleidoscopic, and hugely enjoyable.”—Nell Zink, author of Mislaid