Jan 2019 - The Face

The Face: Strangers on a Pier by Tash Aw

Book Group 1 - Jan, 2019


The Face by Tash Aw is described as  ‘… a whirlwind personal history of modern Asia, as told through his Malaysian and Chinese heritage.’  In this short book Tash Aw ‘explores the panoramic cultural vitality of modern Asia through his own complicated family story of migration and adaption, which is reflected in his own face.  From a taxi ride in present-day Bangkok, to eating Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1980s Kuala Lumpur, to his grandfathers’ treacherous boat journeys to Malaysia from mainland China in the 1920s, Aw weaves together stories of insiders and outsiders, images from rural villages to megacity night clubs, and voices in a dizzying variety of languages, dialects, and slangs, to create an intricate … vivid portrait of a place caught between the fast-approaching future and a past that won’t let go’.


This compact and thought provoking volume provided our group with a morning’s lively discussion on various aspects of the book.  Tash Aw’s  exploration of his family’s heritage made a deep impression on the group to the extent that we all felt we wanted to research and understand our own family’s history in more detail.  Despite it’s short length The Face provided an enjoyable and fascinating read.


Jane Duxbury