One afternoon, not long after Kelly Thorndike has moved back to his hometown of Baltimore, an African American man he doesn't recognize calls out to him. To Kelly’s shock, the man identifies himself as Martin, who was one of Kelly’s closest friends in high school—and, before his disappearance nearly twenty years before, skinny, white, and Jewish. Martin then tells an astonishing story: After years of immersing himself in black culture, he’s had a plastic surgeon perform “racial reassignment surgery”—altering his hair, skin, and physiognomy to allow him to pass as African American. Unknown to his family or childhood friends, Martin has been living a new life ever since.
Now, however, Martin feels he can no longer keep his new identity a secret; he wants Kelly to help him ignite a controversy that will help sell racial reassignment surgery to the world. Kelly, still recovering from the death of his wife and child and looking for a way to begin anew, agrees, and things quickly begin to spiral out of control.
Inventive and thought-provoking, Your face in mine is a brilliant novel about cultural and racial alienation and the nature of belonging in a world where identity can be a stigma or a lucrative brand.
Jess Row was born in 1974 in Washington, DC. After graduating from Yale in 1997, he taught English for two years as a Yale-China fellow at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He completed an MFA at the University of Michigan in 2001. His first book, The Train to Lo Wu, a collection of short stories set in Hong Kong, was published in 2005; in 2006 it was shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize. In 2007 he was named a “Best Young American Novelist” by Granta. His second collection of stories, Nobody Ever Gets Lost, was published by FiveChapters Books in February 2011. His first novel, Your face in mine, will be published by Riverhead Books in August 2014.
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