Facial Justice by L. P. Hartley
Paperback – Valancourt Books – 2022 – 210 pages
World War III left the world in ruins, but now a new society has sprung up from the ashes, ruled by an unseen dictator who believes a system of strict equality is the best way to prevent future strife. Too much beauty, intelligence, or personality is severely frowned upon. Those who run afoul of the Dictator are punished, sometimes with death and sometimes with a more mysterious and terrible fate, being “emptied”.
Jael 97 is an Alpha, whose beauty makes her a target for the Ministry of Facial Justice, where she is expected to submit to having her face altered into a plain, standardized Beta face. But Jael’s rebellious spirit refuses to submit to the Dictator’s demands. Instead she rises up against his tyranny and decides to hunt him down . . .
Cited by Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) as one of the best modern English novels, Facial Justice (1960) is an unusual dystopian tale that deserves consideration alongside the works of Orwell and Huxley. This reissue makes L. P. Hartley’s classic available to American readers for the first time in over fifty years.