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Original Face

324 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published September 2006
ISBN 1920882138
Epdf ISBN 9781922146083

Original Face

Nicholas Jose

The drama begins with a body dumped in south-western Sydney – skinned, with no face. Lewis Lin, taxi driver, photographer, recent arrival from Beijing, happens to be at the scene. With detectives Ginger Rogers and Shelley Swert in pursuit, Lin finds himself drawn into a deadly immigration racket, with a cast which includes a film-maker just in from LA, a Buddhist monk, a millionaire bachelor artist, a masseuse, a maniacal violinist, and a refugee assassin.

Part thriller, part ethnic noir, dark and comic by turns, Original Face offers a sensuous and highly coloured portrait of the jostling energies that make up life in the contemporary Australian city. Drawing its title from an ancient Zen koan, the novel traces the complicated manoeuvres by which people mask their identities, and the accidental pathways by which these hidden selves come to light.

‘Before your father and mother were born, what was your original face?’ This ancient riddle is about appearance and identity. Who are we really? We have a presence that can be accounted for by background, and a presence that appears in what we do and how we interact. In a diverse society such as ours people have many ‘faces’. They are known, and know themselves, in many different ways. And there’s always that question, about who someone is, really.

About the Author

Nicholas Jose

Nick Jose has published seven novels, and three collections of short stories. His non-fiction includes Chinese Whispers: Cultural Essays and an acclaimed memoir, Black Sheep: Journey to Borroloola. He has written widely on contemporary Asian and Australian culture. He was Cultural Counsellor at the Australian Embassy Beijing from 1987-1990 and Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Writing and Society Research Centre, Western Sydney University and Emeritus Professor of English and Creative Writing at The University of Adelaide.

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Original Face is a great crime story told with a craftsman’s precision. It also has a feel for what seems to be a new genre, the Australian ethnic noir. What elevates the book is the allegorical riddle at its heart, which revolves around appearance and identity.

Venero Armanno, The Australian