> Skip to content
  • Published: 28 May 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241986363
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

If I Had Your Face

'Assured, bold, and electrifying' Taylor Jenkins Reid, bestselling author of MALIBU RISING

A glitteringly dark and unsettling debut novel set in the drinking dens and beauty salons of South Korea

If I Had Your Face plunges us into the mesmerizing world of contemporary Seoul - a place where extreme plastic surgery is as routine as getting a haircut, where women compete for spots in secret 'room salons' to entertain wealthy businessmen after hours, where K-Pop stars are the object of all-consuming obsession, and ruthless social hierarchies dictate your every move.

Navigating this cut-throat city are four young women balancing on the razor-edge of survival: Kyuri, an exquisitely beautiful woman whose hard-won status at an exclusive 'room salon' is threatened by an impulsive mistake with a client; her flatmate Miho, an orphan who wins a scholarship to a prestigious art school in New York, where her life becomes tragically enmeshed with the super-wealthy offspring of the Korean elite; Wonna, their neighbour, pregnant with a child that she and her husband have no idea how they will afford to raise in a fiercely competitive economy; and Ara, a hair stylist living down the hall, whose infatuation with a fresh-faced K-Pop star drives her to violent extremes.

  • Published: 28 May 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241986363
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

Praise for If I Had Your Face

Make way for Frances Cha, an entrancing new voice who guides us into the complexities and contradictions of modern-day Seoul... I devoured it in a single sitting, and so will you.

Janice Lee, NYT Bestselling Author of THE PIANO TEACHER

An intimate, panoramic debut... An enthralling read from the very first page.

Ed Park, Author of PERSONAL DAYS and Hemingway Foundation / PEN Award Finalist

It's difficult to believe this is Frances Cha's first novel-she's a masterful storyteller. I couldn't put IF I HAD YOUR FACE down; I was riveted by the stories of four young women navigating life in the extreme, competitive environment of modern Seoul. I loved reading about a world I knew nothing about, and from the first page, it was clear Cha was the best possible guide. I highly recommend this novel.

Ann Napolitano, author of DEAR EDWARD

Absolutely stunning . . . Assured, bold, and electrifying, If I Had Your Face marks the entrance of a bright new voice in fiction

Taylor Jenkins Reid, bestselling author of DAISY JONES & THE SIX

Each voice in this quartet cuts through the pages so cleanly and clearly that the overall effect is one of dangerously glittering harmony. The tale told here is 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, award-winning author of GINGERBREAD

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

I loved this book. It offers a fascinating window on a place and culture I knew little about, and yet from the first page it was intensely relatable - I recognised these women like friends, colleagues or sisters. Invigorating in its honesty and near-filmic in its descriptive power, If I Had Your Face is brilliantly-drawn tableau of the universalities of womanhood, the pressures we grapple with, and the way female bonds can carry us through.

Lauren Bravo, author of WHAT WOULD THE SPICE GIRLS DO?

Wonderful... unsettling and deeply affecting - the writing is beautifully spare, and captures with such clarity what it means for these four young women to be taught to hope for everything and yet continuously to receive nothing

Rosie Price, author of WHAT RED WAS

Troubling, kaleidoscopic, and hugely enjoyable


Compelling, understated, casually brutal, and very cynical. I love it.

Hanna Jameson, bestselling author of 'The Last'

Cha's striking first novel follows four young women in Seoul, South Korea trapped in a sphere of impossible beauty standards

Oprah Magazine, Most Anticipated Books of 2020

A story of four women in Seoul and the way that economic and social realities determine the paths available to them

The Millions, Most Anticipated

If I Had Your Face is hilarious, cuttingly observant, feminist, and all-around delightful. It is hard to write a book about four protagonists and make you care for all of them-yet somehow Cha succeeds.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Costa-shortlisted author of 'Starling Days'

I love the way Frances Cha rotates between mindsets to look at how beauty and privilege influence the way women live, whilst maintaining a sly lightness

Rebecca Watson, author of 'little scratch'

If I Had Your Face is a vivid, eviscerating depiction of social realism in contemporary Seoul. Frances Cha renders gender and class struggles with forensic detail, in a luminous voice both knowledgeable and compelling.

Sharlene Teo, author of 'Ponti'

One of the buzziest debuts of the year, If I Had Your Face transports readers to glittering, futuristic Seoul. Essential reading in what Jia Tolentino memorably called the age of Instagram face.


If you loved Crazy Rich Asians or Daisy Jones And The Six then this is going to be right up your street


An insightful, powerful story from a promising new voice

Publishers Weekly

Cha's timely debut deftly explores the impact of impossible beauty standards and male-dominated family money on South Korean women


Mesmerizing... weaves together the complexities and contradictions of modern-day Seoul, in an ultimately uplifting story of women living in defiance of oppressive customs


A gripping tale at once unfamiliar and unmistakably universal


An eye-opening story of female friendship set against the brutal beauty standards of south Korea


A gripping portrait of four young women in South Korea... its focus on the tangled and complicated nature of female friendship is universally familiar and fascinating

Refinery 29

Culturally fascinating, emotionally layered, gripping and smart

Curtis Sittenfeld, bestselling author of PREP and AMERICAN WIFE

An endearing story of female friendship staged against a backdrop of elitism, sexism and the relentless quest for cosmetic perfection... Enthralling

Vanity Fair

Hypnotising... you won't want to put it down until the very last page

Harper's Bazaar

I stayed up til 4am two nights in a row, absolutely riveted and astonished. Remarkable, brilliantly crafted and devastatingly exquisite

Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of CRAZY RICH ASIANS

A brilliant debut

Pandora Sykes, The High Low Podcast

You'll find sisterhood at the heart of this ambitious book

New York Times Book Review

Fascinating, eye-opening, compelling - like the film Parasite, If I Had Your Face is also an exposé of the class system in South Korea


Discover more

If I Had Your Face book club notes

A glitteringly dark and unsettling debut that's perfect for book club.

Meet our fearless female heroines

These female characters are brave, stand up for their beliefs and aren't afraid to break the status quo. 

Related titles