Under the Skin

By Michel Faber


"Isserley always drove straight past a hitchhiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up."

In Michel Faber's suspenseful first novel, Isserley, an unusual-looking woman with strangely scarred skin, drives through the Scottish Highlands both day and night, looking for just the right male hitchhikers. She picks them up, makes enough small talk to determine she's made a safe choice, then hits a toggle switch on her car, releasing a drug that knocks her victims out. She then takes them to the "farm" where she lives-and where the "processing" takes place-a terrifying procedure involving the removal of various body parts.

In this upside-down world that Faber has so strikingly created, animals are human, and humans are known as "vodsels." Isserley, at one time a beautiful "human" covered in fur with a long tail, is now a foreigner in the "vodsel" world, sent there to collect as many victims as possible. And what becomes of the men she collects is just the beginning of an even more sinister secret. In this world, looks are extremely deceiving; it's what's Under the Skin that truly counts. A disturbing, yet thought-provoking metaphor for a society run amok, this ferociously creative fiction debut will linger in readers' imaginations long after they've passed the last hitchhiker on the highway.

Year of Publication


The monsters in the Highlands are not in Loch Ness, but picking up hitchhikers on the A9. In Michel Faber’s eerie first novel, bodies are morphed and consumed, damaged and deranged as the alien protagonist harvests the itinerant and the wandering. Crisp and stealthy prose clinically unravels the paradox of a monster becoming human both physiologically and psychologically. -- Stuart Kelly

Author Biography

Michel Faber (born 13 April 1960) is a Dutch writer of fiction. He writes in English.

Faber was born in The Hague, The Netherlands. He and his parents emigrated to Australia in 1967. He attended primary and secondary school in the Melbourne suburbs of Boronia and Bayswater, then attended the University Of Melbourne, studying Dutch, Philosophy, Rhetoric, English Language (a course involving translation and criticism of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English texts) and English Literature. He graduated in 1980. He worked as a cleaner and at various other casual jobs, before training as a nurse at Marrickville and Western Suburbs hospitals in Sydney. He nursed until the mid-1990s. In 1993 he, his second wife and family emigrated to Scotland, where they still reside.